Oceana Gold says it is on track to becoming a major gold mining company in the Asia-Pacific region, with construction of its Didipio gold-copper project on schedule. Construction milestones for the project were achieved during 2011 and the company says commissioning of the plant will take place in the fourth quarter of 2012.

“Despite a very wet period we’ve completed the earthworks on the process plant site, and around 30% of the concrete and we are now putting up the steel for the processing plant. In January mining and construction of the tailings storage facility commenced,” says Oceana Gold managing director Mick Wilkes.

“The construction camp is complete and there are around 800 people working at site. We have a strong management team with decades of experience building projects in the tropics with all of our contractors being Filipino based contracting groups,” he says.

Didpio is the company’s focus for growth and widening its base, as well as generating significant cashflow to support future growth. It is expected to be a low-cost, high cash flow project that will transform the company to become a major player in the gold industry.

Despite some challenges for companies developing mining operations in the Philippines, Oceana says it has focused on building a strong relationship with the local community to achieve a social licence to operate.

“We have a very good team on the ground at Didipio with many of those employees coming from the local and surrounding communities and this has been a key to building confidence in what we plan to achieve at Didipio and more broadly in the Philippines as we move forward,” says Mick Wilkes.

The company has provided medical missions to locals in remote parts of Luzon, helping treat medical conditions and initiate anti-malaria programs. Its university scholarship program has resulted in more than 150 residents from local villages sent to university, with some now back at the mine site employed by Oceana - with 95% of the 800 people working on the Didipio site being Filipino.

Oceana says once the plant is up and running the company aims to expand it from an initial 3.5 million tonnes annually to 5 million tonnes of ore.


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