After several failed attempts to sell its stake at the Tampakan Gold and Copper Project to several foreign companies, Indophil Resources NL is now holding talks with the Philippine’s largest food conglomerate San Miguel Corporation.

The Australian-based exploration company owns 37.5 percent of Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI), holder of the Tampakan Gold and Project under the Columbio Financial Technical Assistance Agreement.

The rest of the SMI shares are owned by world mining giant Xstrata Plc, a Swiss-based company, through its subsidiary Xstrata Copper.

San Miguel Corporation already owns 10 percent of Indophil which is valued at US$40 million. 

The ongoing talks mean the Filipino company is ready for a 100 per cent takeover of Indophil and invest US$2 billion to develop and extract copper and gold deposits in Tampakan.

“We would have to make a tender offer to the rest of the shareholders as provided under the rules of the Australian stock exchange. We need to strictly follow the rules there. We need to offer everybody equal share,” SMC president Ramon Ang said.

Indophil is listed in the Australian Stock Exchange.

The Tampakan project is said to contain the largest copper and gold ore deposits in Southeast Asia.

The mine is estimated to contain 13.5 million tons of copper and 15.8 million ounces of gold, at a grade of 0.6 percent copper and 0.2 grams per ton of gold.

The mine is said to have a lifespan of 50 years.

Indophil and its partner Xstrata have been at odds over the sale of the Australian exploration firm’s stake at SMI.

In 2008, Indophil entered into a negotiation with Crosby Capital Partners which partnered with local Filipino company Alsons Consolidated Resources for a possible takeover of its stake at SMI.

Crosby offered to buy the 455 million shares of Indophil for AUS$1.20 per share valued at over AUS$545 million.

Xstrata however virtually vetoed the sale.

The following year, Alsons likewise tendered an offer for the Indophil’s stake at SMI but he deal did not push through.

In June this year, Chinese mining company Zijing Mining Group backed out from completing the purchase of the SMI shares of Indophil after the provincial government of South Cotabato passed an ordinance banning open pit mining in the province.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has diversified into a conglomerate with interests in energy, mining, real state and many others.

Its flagship company is the century old San Miguel Brewery, brewer of San Miguel Pale Pilsen and other beer products.

Last year, it acquired the rights over Sultan Mining which is exploring coal deposits in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Following the acquisition, SMC announced it will build a coal-fired power plant in General Santos City.