Government inaugurates gold-copper processing pilot plant

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) inaugurated on Thursday the Gold-Copper Processing Pilot Plant in Itogon, Benguet as the highlight of the Science Nation Tour (SNT) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). During the blessing and inauguration ceremony, DOST Secretary Mario Montejo lauded the notable impacts of the field implementation of the mineral processing pilot plant in innovating the small scale mining (SSM) industry, which provides 70% of the overall gold production of the country.

“You can double the yield and cut the cost. Of course, it is also environmental friendly,” said Montejo. Furthermore, Dr. Herman Mendoza, the program leader of this project, claimed that it is “pro-environment, pro-poor, and pro-Filipino.”

This project, which is a collaboration between DOST and University of the Philippines, is a huge step in promoting an environment-friendly, high-yielding alternative process of extracting gold from ores using flotation/gravity concentration technologies.

The pilot plant has the capacity to process five tons of gold ore per day.

In fact, this technology enables optimum extraction of gold that reaches up to 90-95% compared to only 40% recovery by the existing SSM operations. In addition, the capital and operational expenditure of processing gold will significantly be reduced from Php 80,000 per ton to Php 10,000 per ton.

Nestor Fongwan, the Governor of Benguet, noted that half the population of Benguet is dependent on the mining industry; thus, improving the gold recovery of SSM operations will not only boost gold production but also contribute to economic growth.

“It is a big leap to the mining industry and hopefully it will be replicated nationwide,” said the Benguet Governor. According to Dr. Mendoza, this project intends to recommend policies for the nationwide implementation of environmentally-friendly integrated gold copper processing plants for the Philippine small scale mining industry.

This event was attended by Itogon Mayor Victor Palangdan, DOST-CAR Regional Director Julius Caesar Sicat, DOST Undersecretary for Science and Technology Services Rowena Guevara, and the team from DOST-CAR and UP.