Filipino mining giant eyes Myanmar deposits

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The Philippines’ largest gold miner said Wednesday it is keen to invest in Burma as the former military-ruled state makes tentative political reforms and tries to lure investors with tax breaks.

Philex Mining Corp. has sent representatives to Burma in recent weeks to look at opportunities and assess the investment climate, company senior vice-president Michael Toledo told AFP.

“Myanmar [Burma] is opening up and a lot of businesses are really looking at that country. We do not want to be left behind,” he said.

He said Philex was eyeing metallic minerals and even natural gas in Burma, but did not disclose which local companies they were dealing with.

“We are looking at the regulatory framework, the political landscape, how business is run there, who are the people to talk to. This is the regular due diligence that companies do,” Toledo said.

The company, which posted a record net income of 5.8 billion pesos ($US136 million) in 2011, is also eyeing investments in gold and copper in Indonesia, Toledo said.

He stressed the talks were exploratory and that no commitments had been made.

Burma has embarked on a course of political reform, including the release of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

It has also installed a quasi civilian government, and allowed Suu Kyi to run in parliamentary elections in April.

As a reward and to encourage further opening up, the United States and Europe have began easing economic sanctions imposed on Burma for its rights abuses.

The Philippines has called for the sanctions to be lifted entirely.

Burma is rich in oil, gas, timber, minerals and gems, and investors are lining up to enter the country as it prepares to further liberalise, officials said.

In January, Burma said it planned to offer eight-year tax exemptions to foreign investors to encourage them to enter the country.

Source: AP

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