After a series of delays due to permitting issues and storm remediation work, Metals Exploration has produced its first gold bar from the Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project on the island of Luzon, the Philippines.

The AIM-listed company said the first pour was part of the ongoing test running and debugging of the processing plant and associated operations.

In a statement on June 13, the company said the carbon-in-leach circuit had now started its test running and debugging operations, with the BIOX circuit estimated to start within the next seven to 10 days.

The gold poured was mainly recovered from the gravity circuit with run of mine ore to be used to stage commission the process plant.

The company had to suspend development at Runruno last year due to damage from super typhoon Lando with remediation work then taking place until earlier this year. This delay added to considerable delays cause by the need to obtain more than 400 permits for the mine.

Costs so far for the development have amounted to about US$210 million.

Runruno is about 350km north of Manila in the mineral-rich province of Nueva Viscaya. The area has been known to be abundant in gold and other precious metals since the early 1960s and has enjoyed a varied exploration history.

Metals Ex acquired the project in February 2005 and recently increased its interest to 100%.

Work to date has a defined mineral resource of 1.39 million ounces of gold, and 25.6 million pounds of molybdenum with 1.05 million ounces of gold reporting to the measured and indicated categories and 900,000 ounces within the mining proven & probable reserve category.

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