The activity in the project accelerated in the 1990s and in 1997 when Philippine Gold signed a letter of intent with Placer Dome to enter into a joint venture over the Runruno project, whereby Placer Dome would have a 60% interest in the project, finance the first $5 million of exploration expenditures and manage the joint venture. However, as the metallurgical testing discovered the refractory nature of the mineralisation, which in combination with low gold prices, resulted in the work in the project area being suspended.
Metals Exploration acquired the license in 2005, producing a maiden 390 koz JORC resource in 2007, completing a scoping study, which outlined the BIOX® technology to extract the gold from the deposit’s refractory ores. The study was based on a nine year open pit operation, which in full production would produce about 183 koz/y of gold, from a 3 Mtpa mine and processing operation. This was scaled down for the Bankable Feasibility Study, which projected average production of 96,00oz of gold per annum over a 10 year mine life from a 2 Mtpa mine.
Initial construction work commenced in 2012. The construction work was delayed significantly due to a court challenge against the validity of the mine in 2012/2013 and then by Typhoon Lando, which resulted in the Philippines Mines and Geosciences Bureau ordering the Company to suspend mine development and to present a rehabilitation plan for the damage caused by the Typhoon in and around the project area.
Runruno produced first gold in 2016, however the Company’s financial situation was impacted due to its inability to service its debt from delays with construction and commissioning. This was compounded by a number of operational issues over the next several years.
In early 2019 the appointment of the new management team, lead by Darren Bowden, started the operational turnaround, helped by a rising gold price environment and a number of successful changes which the team made. The changes implemented by new management delivered a maiden operational profit in 2019.