MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippine Govt Says Australia's Bhp To Invest 1.5 Bln Usd In Davao Nickel Plant

Published by MAC on 2007-02-23
Source: AFX News Limited - Forbes

Philippine govt says Australia's BHP to invest 1.5 bln usd in Davao nickel plant

AFX News Limited - Forbes

23rd February 2007

MANILA (XFN-ASIA) - Australian miner BHP Billiton Ltd will invest 800 mln-1.5 bln usd in a nickel processing plant in Davao Oriental, southern Philippines, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes said.

Reyes said BHP Billiton intends to start construction of the processing plant early next year, with commercial operations slated by 2010.

The plant will have annual capacity of 50,000 metric tons.

The Australian miner will also apply for the conversion of its mining rights from a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) to a financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA), Reyes said.

Under the Philippine Mining Act, mining contractors with 60 pct Filipino ownership may operate a mining area for a period of 25 years and renew it for another 25 years if the mining status is for an MPSA. On the other hand, an FTAA status, which would suit large-scale mining operations better, allows 100 pct foreign ownership.

Reyes met here with Chris Campbell, BHP's chief development official for stainless steel materials, and Philip Hopkins, group manager for regional development.

The Filipino official said BHP will tap its nickel reserves at the Pujada Peninsula in Davao Oriental.

The mine area, covering close to 12,000 hectares, is estimated to have 150 mln metric tons of nickel grade ore.

'They (BHP Billiton) were upbeat on the developments of their project and they brought up the possibility of building their own nickel processing plant here in the Philippines, should the volume of the deposit and other sources so warrant,' said Reyes.

Reyes added BHP Billiton was also in talks with local mining firm Benguet Corp for a possible joint venture project in Benguet's nickel mining claim in Zambales Province, north of Manila.

Philippine nickel production surged to 50,637 metric tons in 2006 from only 16,972 metric tons in 2004. (1 usd = 48.24 pesos)

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