Philex Mining has secured regulatory approval to commence operations at its $1.2bn Silangan copper-gold project in Surigao del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines.

Through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued the declaration of mining project feasibility (DMPF) to proceed with development works.

Production at Silangan mine is expected to begin in 2018.

"The declaration bars the company from conducting mining in portions of the contract area within Mainit town."

Philex Mining chairman Manuel Pangilinan told media sources that the company plans to secure 70% of the required financing for the copper-gold project through bank loans.

The company expects to complete the feasibility studies by the third quarter.

Pangilinan said that Silangan’s prospects are quite good, in terms of both the tonnage of the reserve and the grade of copper and gold.

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The project is estimated to contain five billion pounds of copper and nine million ounces of gold.

Interaksyon reported MGB director Leo Jasareno as saying that the declaration bars the company from conducting mining in portions of the contract area within Mainit town, as indigenous groups are opposing mining activity around the Mainit Lake.

The Silangan project, combining the Boyongan and Bayugo deposits, will allow Philex to continue operations after the closure of its Padcal copper-gold mine in Benguet in 2020.