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ABSTRACT: Co'O Mine, a Case History of Gold Exploration and Mining in the Philippines

Balgamel B. Domingo

Mining in the Philippines is, by virtue of the 1986 Constitution, done through a Filipino corporation with maximum 40% foreign shareholding. Investing in the Philippine mining industry, compared to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, or Malaysia, has the main advantage of predominantly English speaking highly trained mine executives and managers, miners, geologists, plus government incentives of 4-year income tax holiday, 5-year tax and duty free importation of capital equipment and spare parts, and others.

The geologic potential in the Philippines is measurable by its gold production, ranking eighth in the world, the largest copper producer in Asia, and seventh in chromite.

In view of the more than 75 years of mining, potential gold areas are already identified, with more areas discovered by ubiquitous gold panners.

The known gold areas are the Baguio District, Camarines Norte, Masbate, and, the largest by far, the Eastern Mindanao belt from Surigao to Davao. New discoveries are Zamboanga Norte and Sur and Cotabato in Mindanoa.

The 250 km eastern Mindanao metallogenic belt boasts four producing gold mines, a fairly large porphyry copper mine, and several gold panning areas. It is now considered one of the most geologically important potential gold areas in the Philippines today.

Co'O mine, currently at plus 500 tonnes per day underground operation, was actually a small gold panning area. After an operating contract agreement in February 1987, exploration started in April, followed by 7800 m of diamond drilling, blocking a million tonnes of ore averaging 8 g per tonne. Ore shoots are open below current 150 main haulage level and towards the east and west. Sinug-ang orebody is estimated 300,000 tonnes at plus 10 g per tonne, about 2 km north.

In May 1989, a plus 500 tonnes per day CIP plant was commissioned by BHP Engineering following favorable metallurgical test results on a 40-tonnes per day pilot plant treating small-scale mine tailings. Production is targeted at 100 kg gold per month.

Banshaw Mining, incorporated in October 1986, detailed exploration in April 1987, and plant commissioned in May 1989, represent a fast-track approach in exploration, development, and mining in the Philippines today.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90097©1990 Fifth Circum-Pacific Energy and Mineral Resources Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, July 29-August 3, 1990