OceanaGold wins Philippine mine contract renewal for 25 years

MANILA, July 14 (Reuters) - Australian-listed OceanaGold Corp said on Wednesday the Philippine government has renewed its contract for the Didipio gold and copper mine for another 25 years, more than two years after the original agreement expired.

The miner said the terms and conditions set in the original financial or technical assistance agreement were unchanged, and it planned to restart operations of Didipio in northern Philippines “as soon as possible”.

“The company’s first operational priority is the rehiring and training of its Philippine workforce, which will include a focus on safeguarding workers from the current risks associated with COVID-19,” it said in a statement.

The Philippines, the biggest supplier of nickel ore to top metals consumer China and with substantial copper and gold reserves, is seeking to revitalise its mining sector as part of efforts to revive a pandemic-hit economy.

Didipio’s operations will resume initially with the milling of stockpiled ore of about 19 million tonnes, OceanaGold said.

It aims to achieve full underground production capacity within 12 months, with Didipio expected to produce approximately 10,000 ounces of gold and 1,000 tonnes of copper per month once production is fully ramped up.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has described Didipio as a mine that “can be a game changer to the country’s overall standing as copper producer and exporter”. (Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz Editing by)