Mines bureau approves FCF’s commercial production

By Leander C. Domingo

Manila Times –

Mines bureau approves FCF’s commercial production

31 July 2017

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in
Cagayan Valley (Region 2) said it has allowed a London-based mining firm
to start commercial production at its mine site with an estimated 1.3
million ounces of gold for 10 years.

Engineer Mario Ancheta, MGB Region 2 director, on Sunday said he
approved the commercial operations of FCF Minerals Corporation in
Runruno, Quezon town, after the company complied with the mining
standards set by the Philippine government.

The company’s Declaration of Commencement of Commercial Operations
(DCCO) was signed on July 17, after more than a decade of exploration
and development.

Owned 100 percent by the British Metals Exploration Plc, FCF Minerals
operates the Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project, one of the two large-scale
mining projects in Nueva Vizcaya, 280 kilometers north of Manila.

The other one is the Melbourne-based OceanaGold’s Didipio Gold and
Copper Project in Kasibu, which started commercial operations in April
2013. It is located 40 kilometers from FCF-Runruno.

MGB officials said FCF Minerals intended to start commercial operations
in 2016, but the plan was delayed as the company was still working on
its compliance requirements.

Last September, the company submitted its DCCO, “but we needed to
conduct validation and wait for the results of its debugging [test
run],” Ancheta said.

In 2015, the MGB suspended the construction work on the FCF Minerals
Residual Storage Impoundment (RSI) after it was damaged by Typhoon Lando.

“We had to issue a suspension order because we cannot allow mining
companies in the Cagayan Valley region to continue for lack of
compliance congruent with our existing mining laws and regulations,”
Ancheta said.

The company has complied with the demand to present a rehabilitation
plan on the damaged RSI and a clean-up plan on the Malilibeg dumpsite.
After the series of verification and validation, the suspension was
lifted in April 2015, the MGB noted.

“We lifted the suspension for rehabilitation purposes with corresponding
conditions that are part of the lifting order,” Ancheta said.

That same year, then-DENR Secretary Jose Atienza Jr. endorsed the
conversion of the exploration permit into a 25-year Financial or
Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) which was renewable for another 25
years.

Ancheta said the FTAA gave FCF Minerals the exclusive right to explore,
mine, utilize and transport the mineral products from the contract area.

The company also applied for a Sworn Declaration of Mining Project
Feasibility (DMPF).

“After conducting our initial evaluation, we endorsed said application
to our central office for further review,” Ancheta said.

On October 18, 2011, the DENR approved the $700-million DMPF and allowed
the company to proceed with the mining development stage.

Peter Storey, FCF-Runruno operations manager, said the company has spent
over $149 million for the construction and development stage.

“This is in addition to hundreds of millions of peso worth of projects
the company committed as part of its Community Development Program
(CDP),” he said.

A feasibility study showed the project has the potential to mine an
average of 96,700 ounces of gold per year in 10 years of the mine life
at an average operating cost of $477 per ounce.

Storey said the Runruno project was developed as a surface-cut-and-fill
mine with an adjacent processing plant utilizing the biological
oxidation (BIOX) method as well as carbon-in-leach processes to recover
gold and molybdenum.

In the Philippines, FCF Minerals is the first to use the BIOX green
technology which oxidizes the ore and make the gold available for
conventional recovery methods.

The method involves using a culture of naturally-occurring soil bacteria
which promotes oxidation reactions in an aqueous environment.

“The surface mine is being progressively rehabilitated and will be
progressively backfilled as the mine stages are developed, leaving
behind terraced and rehabilitated areas that can be used for future
beneficial use,” Storey said.

He said the company is taking major steps to transform the previous
negative stigma of mining into a positive undertaking by complying with
responsible mining standards.

“We are committed to the effective stewardship, protection and
enhancement of the resource endowments in and around the areas where we
operate,” Storey said.

He said the company conducts business in a manner which continuously
upholds human development and dignity.