MANILA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The Philippines has given the go-ahead for the South Korean-controlled Rapu Rapu copper and zinc mine to resume operations, a senior government official said on Friday.
Horacio Ramos, head of the mines and geosciences bureau, said Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza issued the order to restart operations on Wednesday.
“They will probably have a week of test run and then full operations after that,” Ramos told Reuters by telephone.
Korea Resources Inc (KORES) and LG International Corp (001120.KS) together control 70 percent of the Rapu Rapu project, after buying stakes from a unit of Australia’s Lafayette Mining LAF.AX in April. The rest is owned by Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd (MSCB.KL).
The Rapu Rapu mine, the first fully foreign-owned mine to open in the country after the Supreme Court allowed foreigners up to 100 percent ownership of projects, was shut for more than a year after cyanide spills in 2005.
The disruption in operations pushed Lafayette’s parent group close to bankruptcy and tripped up foreign investment in the sector, with mining investments of around $300 million in the first half of 2008, just a third of the government’s full-year goal.
Operations at the mine resumed in February last year but had to be suspended again in November due to typhoon damage.
Once it resumes production, the Rapu Rapu mine is forecast to generate annual revenues of $350 million from yearly production of around 11,000 tonnes of copper and 13,000 tonnes of zinc. (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Ben Tan)