Corporate News

OceanaGold starts drilling program to increase confidence in Didipio mine

Posted on September 19, 2016

MELBOURNE-BASED OceanaGold Corp. said it has started a drilling program to advance underground resource development in its Didipio mine in Nueva Vizcaya province.

“In the Philippines, an infill and resource extension drill program designed to increase confidence in the underground Didipio resource and test for depth extensions below the current mine design has commenced this month,” OceanaGold said in a statement last week, adding that the firm expects to drill some 50,000 meters underground.

The Australian miner said early stage exploration under its Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), which covers six priority targets, is “well advanced” in terms of geological mapping, surface rock chip sampling, infill and expanded grid soil surveys, and detailed ground magnetic surveys, in order to ”better define and prioritize drill targets.”

“Exploration drilling is scheduled for this quarter,” OceanaGold added.

Mining of Stage 5 of the open pit was completed during the second quarter, putting the Australia-listed company on track to meet its target of starting production from the underground development by the end of next year.

Earlier this year, OceanaGold received the government’s nod to extend its exploration permit (EP) around its mine site for five years. This allowed the company to resume exploration activities at the mine until its EP expires in 2021.

Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez had earlier threatened to revoke the firm’s exploration permit in response to civil society groups’ allegations that OceanaGold’s exploration program poses a danger to the agricultural lands straddling its mining tenement.

However, Jose P. Leviste, chairman of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., said the firm has not received any official advisory ordering the cancellation of its EP.

“According only to the anti-mining NGOs. We trust the sense of fairness of Sec. Gina Lopez and the ‘progressionalism’ of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources). Furthermore, we support President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for responsible mining,” he said in a mobile text message.

By end-June of this year, OceanaGold has seen output of 225,339 ounces of gold and 12,244 tons of copper from the Didipio mine, its lone copper-producer.

It aims to finish this year with production levels at 385,000 to 425,000 ounces of gold from the combined New Zealand and Didipio operations and 19,000 to 21,000 tons of copper at all-in, sustaining costs of $700 to $750 per ounce.

A multinational gold producer, OceanaGold has assets in the Philippines, New Zealand, and the United States where it is currently constructing the Haile gold mine in South Carolina and is slated for commercial production early 2017. -- Janina C. Lim