Didipio To Start Nueva Viscaya Mining Operations In 1st Quarter

MANILA, Philippines - New Zealand-based Oceana Gold Corp. will start production in the first quarter of 2013 from the Didipio copper-gold project in Nueva Vizcaya with an expected output of 100,000 ounces of gold per year.

Already set to put the project into commissioning by November this year, OGC said it is already 85 percent complete with the Didipio project with a total capital expenditure of $220 million as of July 2012.

"We will be the first mining company to operate an FTAA (financial technical assistance agreement contract), and it will be green mining because mining has to be green," said Oceana Gold Philippines Inc (OGPI) Chairman Jose P. Leviste Jr.

Amid the changing government policy on mining, OGPI believes the government is moving supportively for the mining industry.

"Recent government announcement signals continued support for mining. The direction of the Aquino government is a step in the right direction and provides a clear path for future development that can make the Philippines one of the fastest growing economies of the world," according to Brennan Lang, OGPI Didipio operations general manager.

The company is acquiring five units of diesel power generation sets for the plant's electricity supply. The first ore will be milled in November. Present number of employees on site is 1,700.

Lang said that from a target production of 100,000 ounces of gold, this will be upscaled to 150,000 ounces. It will also produce 14,000 tons of copper per year.

The government is expected to collect $350 million in taxes and royalties from the project through a 60 percent revenue share in the FTAA terms.

While starting production, the company will continue to engage in an expansion program in the Didipio project. Feasibility study will start in the project with a planned budget of $5 million to $10 million for exploration.

The Green Mining program will involve planting of one million trees in five years. This will be in identified 70-hectare area in Deibibi and 30-hectare area in Kasibu around the project site.

"Coffee or bamboo will be planted on land leased by local landowners. It will engage local landowners to plant, maintain and harvest the plantations, providing landowners with ongoing income and employment," said Lang.

The agro-forestry commitment is also being coordinated with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources's National Greening Program and Mining Forestry Program.

Given start of operations, Leviste said the company, being a Board of Investments-registered company, plans to list with the Philippine Stock Exchange. This will be in addition to OGPI parent firm's listing in New Zealand, Australia and Canada.