Under the contract, QED will complete up to 24 drill holes comprising 3,850m of diamond and reverse circulation (RC) drilling at the property in three phases.

Expected to start today, the first phase covers 1,050m of RC drilling, and will be followed by the second phase involving 1,800m of RC drilling or 1,000m of diamond drilling, and a third phase consisting of RC or diamond drilling not completed in the previous phase.

The first phase is anticipated to complete by the end of this month, while assay results will be announced by the end of May 2014.

ECR chief executive officer Stephen Clayson said the first phase drilling follows an intensive period of preparatory work, involving negotiations with relevant surface claimants, community relations activities and extensive road and access improvements.

"Assay results from this first phase of drilling will be a very important indicator as to the potential of the Itogon project, particularly as all historical drilling is reported to have been completed vertically and therefore does not provide a proper test of the steeply dipping veins identified at Itogon," Clayson added.

The second and third phases of drilling are dependent on satisfactory results from prior phases, and may be completed simultaneously if requested by ECR and if deemed practical by QED.