A study undertaken by gold and copper producer Philex Mining has confirmed the viability of its $1.5bn Silangan project on the island of Mindanao in southern Philippines.

Silangan has estimated reserves of five billion pounds of copper and nine million ounces of gold.

The mine is expected to begin production in 2018 and become a key revenue generator for Philex after its Padcal mine closes in 2020, reported Reuters.

Announcing the third quarter results, Philex chairman Manuel Pangilinan said that in the next two months the company will focus on the next big prospective mine, the Silangan project, and finding additional reserves to extend the life of Padcal mine.

"[Philex] plans to invest up to PHP4bn ($89m) in the Silangan project this year." 

Silangan Mindanao Mining president and CEO Yulo E Perez said: "We are on-track with completing the bankable or definitive feasibility study (DFS) for Silangan to de-risk the project and further increase our confidence level.

"We expect the DFS to be completed by mid-next year and are also looking forward to secure the remaining regulatory approvals to commence production."

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The Silangan project is a combined development of the Boyongan and Bayugo gold, copper and silver deposits.

Philex consolidated its ownership in the project by buying the remaining 50% stake from Anglo American Exploration and Anglo American Exploration (Philippines) in 2009 for $55m.

Philex has reported PHP950.6m ($21m) net income for the first nine months, representing a drop of 34% from the same period last year. The company attributed the decline to lower ore grades and depressed metal prices and plans to invest up to PHP4bn ($89m) in the Silangan project this year.

Image: An agro-forestry programme undertaken by Silangan in Mindanao. Photo: courtesy of Philex Mining.