BAGUIO CITY – A top mining executive revealed the country’s existing mineral ore production is not sufficient to sustain the operation of another smelting plant to process the mineral ore.
Engr. Eulalio B. Austin, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Philex Mining Corporation, said mining companies operating in the different parts of the country ship their mineral ore to smelter plants outside the country because of better buying terms compared to the existing smelter plant based in Leyte.
Austin and other company officials and employees recently celebrated the company’s 60th anniversary of public listing.
He disclosed it takes around $1.2 billion to establish a smelting plant in the country with the capacity to process some 300,000 tons of mineral ore annually so that its operation will be viable.
However, Austin admitted that even if the mining companies that are in the pipeline will be operational, the minimum mineral ore of 300,000 tons annually will not be enough to sustain the operation of the proposed smelting plant to be put up in the country.
“The proposed smelting plant in the country is a welcome development but there is a need for more mining companies to operate to guarantee the feasibility of the operation of the smelting plant,” Austin stressed.
The Philex official underscored the existing smelting plant in the country must be able to match or even exceed the payment terms of smelting plants abroad in order to attract existing mining companies to have their mineral ore processed in the locally.
For Philex, he claimed it is shipping its mineral ore concentrate to a smelting plant in Japan because of attractive terms that smelter offers.
According to him, the shipping cost of bringing the company’s mineral ore to Japan is actually much cheaper compared to the shipping cost in bringing its mineral ore concentrate to the smelting plant in Leyte.
He explained mining companies are exerting efforts to make their respective productions sustainable by shifting to high-grade ore production (if the companies have still available high-grade ore deposits) or to reduce operating costs.
According to Austin, the world metal prices are unpredictable thus mining companies have to be resilient.
The Philex executive said mining companies must be able to craft ways on how to cope with the unpredictable world metal prices knowing that the price of copper depends developments in the different parts of the world while gold prices depend on the prevailing condition of the United States dollar.
Austin predicted there is still a bright prospect in the country’s mineral industry because there are still available ore deposits that have yet to be explored and developed to make mining a major driver of the country’s economy.