THE LOCAL unit of South African miner Gold Fields Ltd is looking to bag a permit this year to acquire majority control of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co.’s gold project amid upbeat estimates on the site’s resource potential, an official said on Friday.
Gold Fields Philippines, Inc. president and chief executive Brett Mattison said he expects to be granted a financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) license within the year to pave the way for the acquisition of another 20 percent in the so-called Far SouthEast (FSE) project in Mankayan, Benguet from Lepanto, thus hiking the South African miner’s stake to 60 percent.
A FTAA is the license required by the Philippine government of any foreign miner looking to own or control a majority stake of any large-scale mineral resource in the country.
Late last month, the firm completed its acquisition of a 40 percent stake in the FSE project through Liberty Express Assets, a private holdings company, for $220 million.
Gold Fields has a remaining option to acquire an additional 20 percent interest in FSE through listed miner Lepanto, which owns the project.
“What attracted us is the high-grade mineralisation in the area. There’s continuity between the mineralisations and that is exciting,” Mattison said in his speech a the Philippine Mining Luncheon.
According to the official, the potential resources contained in the project are seen to be so vast that it is expected to yield large amounts of minerals regardless of the method of extraction used.
Mattison said that its exploration target for the project is 52 million ounces of gold equivalent to be discovered through drilling a total of 900 meters below surface area. Gold Fields currently has eight drill rigs operating at the site.
In September 2010, Gold Fields signed separate option agreements with Lepanto and Liberty Express to verify the mineral resources of the project. The agreement entitled the South African miner the rights to exercise options to acquire a total of 60 percent interest in the project for $340 million.