BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: Environment Secretary Regina Lopez sent a team to investigate OceanaGold Philippine Inc. (OGPI) after the provincial governor requested to cancel the firm’s renewal of its permit for extended exploration.
In a letter to Gov. Carlos Padilla, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno said their team will conduct the assessment on August 1 to 5 at OGPI’s Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) area of operation in Kasibu town in this province and Cabarroguis, Quirino province.
Padilla, in his letter-request to Lopez last week, said the issuance of the exploration permit extension of the company appeared to be a “midnight deal and very suspicious.”
”We are formalizing our request for the cancelation or suspension of the exploration permit and that an exploration moratorium be declared pending amendments to mining policies,” he added.
In March this year, the Australian-Canadian miner was granted a five-year extension its FTAA, valid until 2021, amid strong opposition from residents and anti-mining advocates to its mining activities in Didipio village, Kasibu.
OceanaGold said they welcome any assessment or audit by the national government for them “to prove its track record as a responsible operator” in the mining industry.
Ramoncito Gozar, OceanaGold senior vice president for communications and external affairs, said the company supports a transparent audit.
Meanwhile, the mining firm said its development continues to advance well and is scheduled to start its underground mining operations by the end of next year or early 2018.
Mick Wilkes, OceanaGold president and chief executive officer, said mining of Stage 5 of the open pit copper and gold project in Didipio was completed during the second quarter, ahead of schedule.