Manila Bulletin

Madelaine B. Miraflor

Screen Shot 2021 05 05 at 23.56.30Australian-Canadian miner OceanaGold Corporation (OceanaGold) and the Philippine government are now finalizing the terms of their updated Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) for the resumption of the operations of the Didipio gold and copper mine in Nueva Vizcaya.

In a regulatory filing with the Toronto Stock Exchange and Australian Securities Exchange, OceanaGold disclosed that it had multiple meetings with Philippine government officials in December to finalize the terms of the FTAA renewal.

It also said the renewal is expected to be endorsed to the Office of the President for approval. 

“The Company will continue to engage with government officials and will work with stakeholders for a safe restart of operations at Didipio,” OceanaGold said.

“The timeline for the renewal remains uncertain and achieving steady-state production will be dependent on the timing of the renewal and workforce recruitment efforts,” it added.

It’s been more than a year since the company’s request for FTAA renewal was forwarded to the Office of the President.

In December last year, the government finally re-started the negotiations on OceanaGold’s FTAA renewal, which came after the granting of a Certification of Non-Overlap (CNO) to the company, which stated that the area of its mining operations is outside of an ancestral domain.

“We expect the renewal will be returned to the Office of the President for review and approval in the near-term… We look forward to working with stakeholders and Government officials to safely restart operations and continue the significant socio-economic benefits when the renewal has been approved,” Michael Holmes, president and CEO of OceanaGold, said.

“OceanaGold is a responsible gold mining Company that is focused on operating to the highest social and environmental international standards and considers Didipio the template for responsible mining globally,” he added.

In October last year, as many as 496 employees at the Didipio gold and copper mine have lost their jobs during the first round of permanent layoffs conducted by OceanaGold.

Along with the termination of direct employees, approximately 400 people working with contractors were also impacted.

The first round of permanent layoff came more than a year after FTAA between OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI), OceanaGold’s local subsidiary, and the Philippine government expired.

Aside from its pending FTAA renewal, OceanaGold has also been facing opposition from the local government unit (LGU) of Nueva Vizcaya for its project.

In 2019, Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla released an order to stop the company’s operation as soon as its FTAA expired.

At the time, a barricade was established surrounding the Didipio mine site.