Tampakan’s gold and copper deposit higher than past estimates

The Xstrata Copper posted a recent report on the Internet that said that new resource estimates for copper and gold deposits in the project pursued by Sagittarius Mines, Inc. were pegged at 2.2 billion tons, 10 percent larger than what was last reported in April 2006.

The management disclosed on Thursday that "this is the first resource estimate published by Xstrata Copper since it assumed management control of the Tampakan project in March 2007.”

Peter Forrestal, Xstrata Copper executive general manager for project development, said the latest finding made the Tampakan venture the largest development project in Xstrata Copper's portfolio and validated its position as one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in Southeast Asia.

The upgraded measured, indicated and inferred resource totals 2.2 billion tons at a grade of 0.6 percent copper and 0.2 grams per ton gold and contains 12.8 million tons of copper and 15.2 million ounces of gold using a 0.3 percent copper cut-off grade, the company said in a statement.

The company added that the new mineral resource estimate was taken from the 24,700 meters of drilling conducted this year. The drillings and testing also found that the deposits indicated an estimated average grades for molybdenum of 70 parts per million.

Previous estimates pegged resources at two billion tons, containing 11.6 million tons of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold at a 0.3% copper cutoff grade.

"We continue to look for growth opportunities through improvements at existing operations, acquisitions and the development of our strong project pipeline," said Forrestal, who also served as Sagittarius president. "The promising mineral resource estimate at Tampakan indicates the project has excellent potential to make a substantial contribution to Xstrata Copper's growth profile."

Xstrata Copper claims to be the fourth largest global copper producer with annual managed production of over one million tons. Its Tampakan project straddles the towns of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

"We are committed to evaluating and developing the Tampakan project in genuine partnership with the Philippine government and authorities, local institutions and our neighboring communities," he added.

Forrestal said the current focus of the company was on feasibility-related studies, "which is expected to be completed inthe second half of 2009, and on advancing its sustainable development programs with the local communities.”

Xstrata Copper, based in Brisbane, is pursuing the Tampakan project, with Australian firm Indophil Resources NL. The project is strongly opposed by the local Catholic Church for fear of an environmental catastrophe.

Richard Laufmann, Indophil chief executive officer, said in a separate statement that his company was "buoyed" by the latest development in the Tampakan project.

"The release overnight of a new mineral resource estimate by Xstrata Copper confirms the world-class status of, and Xstrata's commitment to, the Tampakan copper-gold project in the southern Philippines," Laufmann said.

He said "Xstrata Copper has a clear and aggressive growth strategy over the next five years, requiring nearly one million tons of annual copper production derived from greenfield projects like Tampakan."

The new resource estimate shows that the mineral resource was actually larger, after the findings were contributed by the accumulation of new drilling data, "resulting in the category of inferred resources being largely upgraded to the superior categories of measured and indicated, with significant volumes of exploration potential having been upgraded to the resource category", the Indophil statement said.

The Tampakan resource remains open in all directions, it added.

Indophil has recently lifted its stake in the Tampakan project from 32.5 percent to 34 percent with agreements in place to increase that stake over time to 37.5 percent. Indophil is increasing its stake after local partner Alsons Corp agreed to sell its 5% share to the former. (MindaNews)