April 17, 2024

■  Ofelia C. Empian 

A large-scale gold-copper mining project will soon commence in Kalinga through the Makilala Mining Company, Inc. in Balatoc, Pasil, Kalinga, which was the site of the defunct Batong Buhay Gold Mines, Inc.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera said the Makilala Mining Company’s Maalinao-Caigutan-Biyog (MCB) copper-gold mining project received its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) 356-2024 on March 13.

Director Fay Apil, in a press conference, said with the MPSA, the mining firm can now start its development stage. In this stage, the company can now prepare the area for its operation. 

Apil said the MPSA would allow Makilala to mine for 25 years the 2,500-hectare site within the Balatoc ancestral domain with the community’s consent in Pasil.

“We hope that the Makilala opening in Pasil would have a multiplier effect on the people’s economy due to their presence,” Apil said. 

In Nov. 14, 2022, the indigenous cultural communities of Balatoc and the Makilala mining company signed a 25-year memorandum of agreement on the production agreement and resource sharing scheme of the mining project.

Apil said the Makilala site is currently under the jurisdiction of the state-owned Philippine Mining Development Corp. (PDMC) under the MOA with the Balatoc ICCs.

The Makilala, a subsidiary of mineral explorer Celsius Resources, would infuse as much as $200 million (P11.2 billion) into the province’s economy.

The Makilala site, which was known as the Batong Buhay Gold Mines, Inc. (BBGMI), was established in 1934 as an underground mine with a 300 tons per day-capacity mill in Pasil, Kalinga.

The mine was closed in World War II. By 1969 to 1970, the BBGMI through the Nippon Mining Company of Japan conducted exploration for disseminated copper, and developed the area for porphyry copper deposit in 1978.

In December 1979, the government, through the Development Bank of the Philippines, took over the management, control and operation of BBGMI and appointed Philex Mining Corporation as its mining operator.

It continued to operate until 1984 when it stopped because of insurgency problems. In June 1986, it was turned over to the Asset Privatization Trust.

Since then, the BBGMI property has been under the receivership through its Privatization and Management Office until this was transferred to then Natural Resources Mining Development Corporation now PMDC on April 7, 2006.

Based on the mineral resource estimate data of Makilala, there are 338 metric tons at 0.47 percent copper grade and 0.12 grams per ton gold grade mineable reserve at the mine site.