OceanaGold plans to ramp up operations at the Didipio underground gold-copper mine within 12 months after securing a 25-year mine lease renewal from the Philippine Government.
The approval follows a lengthy process of halted mine operations from July 2019 due to tensions between the Brisbane-based miner and Philippine Government over the mine licence.
OceanaGold president and chief executive officer Michael Holmes said the financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) with the government set the stage for a mine restart.
“We are pleased to confirm the renewal of the Didipio Mine’s FTAA and thank the Philippine Government for their endorsement and renewal,” he said.
“We have worked through the renewal process in partnership with the government and regulatory agencies.
“We look forward to commencing restart activities and continuing to work in partnership with our regulators, communities, employees, and all stakeholders to contribute to the Philippines’ post-COVID-19 economic recovery.”
The mine has been maintained in an operational stand-by state with OceanaGold’s next focus being the training and rehiring of a local Philippine workforce.
Milling of approximately 19 million tonnes of stockpiled ore is slated to resume as soon as possible.
According to OceanaGold, full underground production capacity will be achieved within 12 months, with Didipio then expected to produce around 10,000 gold ounces and 1000 tonnes of copper per month.
OceanaGold’s approval was preceded by a company media statement in December that stated the miner was on track to receive approval.
“The company’s FTAA has the strong endorsement of the residents in the local communities in and around the Didipio Mine including Indigenous Peoples,” OceanaGold stated in December.
The FTAA was renewed on mostly the same terms but included modifications such as the equivalent of an additional 1.5 per cent of gross revenue to be provided to community development.
According to OceanaGold, the Didipio is a major direct and indirect employer in the Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya provinces.