Philex Mining Corp, the Philippines' biggest miner, has pulled out of bidding to develop a potential gold and copper site on the southern island of Mindanao, leaving six foreign and local groups, a senior government official said on Monday.
The contract to develop the 1,620-hectare Upper Ulip-Paraiso site will be bid out by the Philippine Mining Development Corp on Dec 3. It is located on Mount Diwalwal, considered a gold rush area that has attracted many small-scale miners.
The area is part of the 8,100-hectare Diwalwal mineral reservation site which the government took over in 2006.
Companies that have prequalified to bid include MTL Philippines Inc, a unit of Britain's Metals Exploration Plc, China Sci-tech Holding Ltd in a joint venture with Songxian Fengyuan Molybdenum Industry Co and Hangzhou Jiantong Group Co in alliance with local firm Mt Apo Mining Development Corp, said PMDC Vice President Jaime de Veyra.
South Korea's Junheung International Co Ltd is also expected to bid as well as Philippine firms Mt Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp and Karanglan Resources and Mining Corp.
Philex withdrew from the race "because they feel that the development of the Diwalwal area should be done as one whole project and not just portions of it," de Veyra, who is also head of the auction committee, told Reuters.
PMDC, an arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, had moved the bid date to Dec 3 from Monday after the bidders asked for more time to prepare their offers, he said.
The 25-year contract will go to the company or group that will offer the highest commitment fee for the first year, he said, with the government setting a floor price of $1.5 million, payable when the contract is signed.
The winning bidder will also have to pay $1 million a year in additional commitment fees for the next four years, on top of a 5 percent royalty on the gross sales value of its mineral output.
The contract wil also require the winner to spend at least $1 million for the project on the initial year, at least $10 million over the next five years and $50 million for the rest of the 25-year agreement.
The Southeast Asian nation sits atop an estimated $1 trillion worth of mineral wealth but only $1.7 billion has flowed in since 2004, when the Supreme Court cleared a law allowing foreigners to own 100 percent of large-scale mining projects.