Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp.

What’s next for Lepanto’s IPs?

Jul 11, 2024, 5:07 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz


Now that bleeding Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp. has lost its partner– Gold Fields– for its Far Southeast Gold REsources Inc. (FSGRI) project in Mankayan, Benguet and its uncertainty of obtaining the Free and Prior Informal Consent (FPIC) of the Mankayan Indigenous People (IPs) to renew its expired Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (in 2015) - what would be left for the IPs should it finally close shop.

Business blog site Bilyonaryo reported that loss-making LCMC of stockbroker-businessman Felipe Yap has suffered a major setback in its Mankayan gold mining project and Yap was clueless when asked by the Philippine Stock Exchange to provide a rationale for Gold Fields’ decision to terminate its option and shareholders agreement signed in 2010.

“As far as we know, Gold Fields has decided not to pursue the project,” Lepanto said, adding that it plans to find other partners to develop the project as quickly as possible, Bilyonaryo reported.

Lepanto, however, assured the PSE that the termination will not impact the FSGRI project, which is still in the pre-operating stage.

Lepanto owns 60 percent of FSGRI, while Gold Fields Switzerland Holding AG holds 40 percent.

Under the scuttled deal, Gold Fields could buy up to 20 percent of FSGRI within 18 months of the agreement or 10 days after a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) is issued.

Lepanto would reduce its FSGRI stake to 40 percent and receive a non-refundable $10 million option fee.0They need this consent to get the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ approval to renew the MPSA and convert it into an FTAA to start development.

In its 2023 audited financial statement, SGV & Co. raised doubts about Lepanto’s ability to continue as a going concern after it amassed a capital deficit of P7.05 billion and net current liabilities of P1.727 billion following a series of annual losses.

In 2023, the company celebrated “87 years of responsible mining,” its website showed.

LCMC successfully retained its certification of compliance with international standards in environmental management or the ISO 14001:2015, with four-peat zero non-conformance.

The certification is for another three years following a three-day audit covering the company’s three facilities – Makati Corporate Office, Lepanto Warehouse in Bulacan and the Lepanto Mine Division in Mankayan, Benguet.

ISO is an independent, non-governmental, international standard-setting body, ensuring quality, safety and efficiency for almost every industry around the world.

TUV Rheinland’s audit report noted 16 positive findings, mostly commending the company’s best practices in environmental protection including the company’s effort to decontaminate all of its PCB-laced transformer units and become the first mining company in Southeast Asia to go PCB-free.

The auditors also lauded the company’s initiative in constructing its own Engineered Sanitary Landfill, which sets a benchmark for the Philippine mining industry. The audit report also noted Lepanto’s creative way of promoting responsible mining through its first CineMina Short Film Festival.

LCMC’s VP for HR and Administration and overall Environmental Management Representative Knestor Jose Godino said that the favorable result of the audit affirms the company’s unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable development.

“Obtaining ISO certification is one thing, but maintaining it consistently with zero non-conformance is entirely another thing. It’s never an easy process, it involves teamwork and strong determination to be ever compliant with all standards.

This only speaks of what a real responsible and sustainable mining company is,” Godino added.

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