Canadian miner digging out gold in Surigao

CANADIAN MINER Mindoro Resources Ltd. will prioritize the exploration of its local gold and copper mines to take advantage of rising gold prices in world markets.

"Clearly, the market has no appetite for nickel right now, so we are not going to attempt to finance the advancement of our nickel project by ourselves at this time," Tony Climie, president and chief executive officer of subsidiary MRL Gold Phils., told reporters on the sidelines of a mining investment conference in Makati on Friday.

Local unit MRL Gold will spend $450,000, which it had raised through the Toronto Stock Exchange last week, to explore the Agata copper and gold mine in Surigao del Norte.

But given low share prices, the company is "issuing a lot of stocks and we are diluting the company, but we are moving the project forward [instead of] letting it stagnate," Mr. Climie said.

The price of nickel for cash buyers has dropped by more than half to $10,100 from $22,500 per metric ton in June and by more than two-thirds from $31,000 during the same period last year amid dampened demand, data from the London Metal Exchange showed.

MRL seeks to extract 7,000 to 10,000 metric tons of nickel yearly for at least 25 years from its Agata nickel mine in Surigao.

Meanwhile, MRL Gold may sign a deal with Australian Gold Fields Limited, one of the world’s largest gold producers, to acquire three-quarters of each of the company’s El Paso, Lobo and Talahib porphyry, copper and gold projects in Batangas.

Joint venture partner British Avocet Mining PLC is also drilling at the Kay Tanda gold project in Batangas. The company will spend $30 to $50 million to develop the property.

MRL, which has been exploring nickel, iron, gold and copper deposits in the country since 1996, is listed on the stock exchanges of Frankfurt and Toronto. — Neil Jerome C. Morales, Business Word

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