Alsons buys P4.2-B total share at Indophil

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/11 February) — The Alcantara Group now owns nearly 20% stake in the Australian firm Indophil Resources NL, one of the foreign firms behind the Tampakan copper-gold project, following the completion of the share placement agreement worth at least P4.2 billion.

Kay Donehue, Indophil company secretary, said early this week they issued 141,041,667 fully paid ordinary shares to Alsons Prime Investment Corp under Tranche 2 of the placement announced last December 12 before the Australian Stock Exchange.

The shares cost Alsons Prime A$67.7 million, she said.

Alsons Prime is a subsidiary of Alsons Power Holdings Corp, a unit of Alsons Consolidated Resources, Inc., the publicly listed holding company of the Alcantara Group.

Following the payment of Tranche 1, Indophil announced the appointment of Nicasio I. Alcantara to the board as non-executive director.

Alcantara serves as director also in a number of companies in the Philippines. His diverse industry experience includes manufacturing, banking and finance, property, information technology, agriculture, and power and energy.

Tranche 1 involved the issuance of 66,666,667 ordinary shares at A$0.45 per share valued at A$30 million.

With the completion of the share placement totaling to U$99.4 million (A$97.7 million) or P4.2 billion., Alsons Prime now controls 19.99% of Indophil.

Indophil earlier said the proceeds of the placement would be used to bankroll its obligations at the Tampakan project, its flagship asset.

The Australian firm owns 37.5% of the controlling equity at Sagittarius Mines, Inc., the Philippine affiliate pursuing the Tampakan project.

Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth largest copper producer, exercises management supervision at the Tampakan project through its 62.5% stake at Sagittarius Mines.

Last month, the Tampakan project suffered a major blow after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources denied its application for environmental compliance certificate (ECC), in deference to the open-pit mining ban imposed by South Cotabato province.

An ECC is one of the requirements for the company to go into commercial phase.

Sagittarius Mines earlier set 2016 for the start of its commercial production operations.

The company has since filed a motion for reconsideration for the rejected ECC but results remain pending to date.

While the DENR urges the company to settle the open-pit mining ban with the provincial government of South Cotabato, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has yet to decide on the petition from pro-mining groups to lift the prohibition.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Y. Pingoy repeatedly vowed to implement the open-pit ban unless a court nullifies it or the provincial legislative body amends it.

Late last month, the company announced higher deposits at the Tampakan project.

On the basis of the new information, the estimated contained copper at Tampakan in total resources has risen from 13.9 metric tons to 15 MT while estimated contained gold has risen from 16.2 million ounces to 17.9 Moz.

The Tampakan project is facing social resistance from the local Catholic Church and other environmental groups, and security threats from the communist New People’s Army rebels. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)