Mining and haulage activities at OceanaGold’s Didipio project.
Mining and haulage activities at OceanaGold’s Didipio project.

DEBOTTLENECKING of OceanaGold’s Didipio process plant to achieve the planned annual 3.5 million tonne throughput rate is on schedule for completion by the end of the year. This process helped the company achieve record gold production of 30,480 ounces during the March quarter with 6479 tonnes of copper also produced.

During the quarter, OceanaGold made four shipments of copper-gold concentrate totalling 30,152 dry metric tonnes to Asian markets while by the end of the quarter the operation had recorded more than 10 million man hours worked without a lost time injury.

The company has also received the support and official consent from the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples to conduct exploration at the Mayag tenement in northern Mindanao. This is a milestone as it demonstrates successful completion of OceanaGold’s free and prior informed consent process with local indigenous groups and brings the company closer to receiving Mayag exploration permits.

Overall in 2014 the company plans to produce 275,000-305,000 ounces of gold at cash costs of $400-$450 per ounce net of by-product credits and all-in sustaining costs of $750-$850 per ounce net of by-product credits. Didipio’s contribution is expected to be 85,000-95,000 ounces of gold and 21,000-24,000 tonnes of copper-in-concentrate.

Total capital expenditure is forecast to be $80-$100 million with $30-$40 million in the Philippines. Total exploration expenditure is forecast to be $5-$10 million which includes exploration in the Philippines and costs to maintain the newly acquired assets in El Salvador.

Managing director and CEO Mick Wilkes says, “Didipio gold production is forecast to be higher than 2013 due to the average gold grade of ore mined increasing as we go deeper into the ore body and throughput rates approaching 3.5 million tonnes. Significantly, copper production remains strong.”

Total proven and probable gold reserves stand at 3.14 million ounces of gold and 210,000 tonnes of copper. Total measured and indicated resources are 202.1 million tonnes @ 1.28 grams/tonne gold for 8.34 million ounces. Didipio measured and indicated resources are 2.06 million ounces of gold and 260,000 tonnes of copper.

Didipio proven and probable reserves have decreased slightly since 2013 and stand at 1.59 million ounces of gold and 210,000 tonnes of copper. This is mainly due to depletion from open pit mining as a result of commencement of commercial production during 2013 and the lifting of the open pit cut-off grade from 0.50 to 0.55 grams/tonne gold-equivalent.

Open pit mining depletion has reduced measured and indicated resources by 80,000 ounces of gold and 27,000 tonnes of copper. Deep drilling in 2013 increased underground measured and indicated resources by 30,000 ounces.

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