CANADIAN-AUSTRALIAN mining firm OceanaGold Corp. said it started mineral processing at its Didipio gold and copper mine project in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces, a few months after securing a contract renewal from the government.
Scott Sullivan, OceanaGold chief operating officer, said the start of milling is two weeks ahead of schedule, following the completion of plant upgrades and maintenance activities, while the start of mining activity was one month earlier than planned.
“Following the confirmation of the Didipio Mine Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) renewal, Didipio is producing gold and copper again, which will be an important source of free cash flow generation for the company and a significant contributor of socio-economic benefits for the region and country,” Mr. Sullivan said in a statement Thursday.
“As the underground mining operations continue to ramp up over the course of the next eight to nine months, the primary ore feed will be sourced from low-grade stockpiles, of which the company has approximately 23 million tons of ore on surface,” he added.
According to OceanaGold, the Didipio process plant is estimated to hit throughput at a pace of 3.5 million tons per annum over the next few weeks.
It added that for the rest of 2021, the company expects to produce between 7,000 and 12,000 ounces of gold and 1,000 tons of copper with estimated all-in costs of between $100 and $150 per ounce on a by-product basis.
OceanaGold said it continues to ramp up operations to full production to rates of 10,000 ounces of gold and 1,000 tons of copper a month, while it managing risks from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In July, OceanaGold said it obtained a renewal of its FTAA for another 25 years, applied retroactively from June 19, 2019.
Modifications to the FTAA include a listing requirement of at least 10% of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. shares on the Philippine Stock Exchange within the next three years, augmenting the percentage of gross revenue allotted for community development, and the transfer of its main office to a host province within the next two years.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has called the reopening of the Didipio mine an important boost to the national economy, along with the issuance of Executive Order No. 130, which lifted the ban on new mineral agreements. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave