AUSTRALIAN miner OceanaGold Corp. said on Tuesday it has received a letter from the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), along with the Didipio Audit Report, which states that the company “was found to be complying with its permitting requirements set forth by different Philippine Environmental Laws.”
The Didipio Audit Report outlines the findings and recommendations from the recently completed audit of its mining operations in the province of Nueva Vizcaya.
According to the DENR letter, the company has the opportunity to address the findings and recommendations contained within the Audit Report within seven days of receipt.
The company noted that of the findings and recommendations outlined in the Audit Report, a number of them were discussed as a matter of routine with the DENR audit team during the DENR close-out meeting following the completion of the audit in August.
The findings in the Audit Report relate mostly to a need to further educate a broader group of stakeholders on specific aspects of the operations.
OceanaGold also said the vast majority of recommendations relate to the need to further expand the company’s information, education and communication program.
Furthermore, the “findings” on the Didipio operations publicized during the DENR press conference on September 26 were not included as findings outlined in the Audit Report, it noted.
The Audit Report states that the company “has extended more than what is required by law…” and “was found to be complying [with]its permitting requirements set forth by different Philippine Environmental Laws…Moreover its operations are being governed by an Environmental Management System that is ISO 14001:2004 compliant…”
The Audit Report goes on to say that the area of Didipio “has to deal with illegal artisanal small-scale mining activities that contribute to the degradation of the immediate environment and water bodies…” and includes a recommendation to government agencies to stop these illegal operations.
Mick Wilkes, president and CEO said, that the Didipio Mine is a world-class operation that operates in accordance with the highest industry standards for health, safety, environment, community and sustainability.
“The results of the Audit Report and discussions we’ve had with the audit team and with government officials including those within the DENR clearly demonstrates this. In our discussions with the DENR and government officials, we have good alignment and we look forward to our collective efforts to advance a responsible mining sector,” Wilkes said.
“As such, I am very confident that our responses to the DENR will satisfy all of the findings and recommendations that have been raised,” he added.
Wilkes was also pleased that the Didipio operation was nominated by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), an agency of the DENR, for the 2016 Presidential ‘Most Environmentally Responsible Mining Operation’ award for a third straight year.
“As the award recipient in 2015 and nominee again in 2016, we believe that the Didipio operation is the template for what President Duterte is seeking when stating his desire for a responsible mining sector within the Philippines,” he said.
AT least four miners which were recently slapped with recommendation for suspension are vying for the prestigious presidential award, which recognizes mining companies with exemplary performance in environmental management, safety and health, and social development and management programs.
According to the selection committee, 23 mining companies from all over the Philippines have been shortlisted for this year’s Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA).
Of the 23 mining firms, 11 were identified as surface miners while the rest are involved in quarry operations, mineral exploration and processing.
Four of those 11 in metallic mineral mining were recommended for suspension by the MGB as part of the mine audit ordered by Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez.
These four are Agata Mining Ventures, Inc., Hinatuan Mining Corp.-Taganaan, OceanaGold (Phils) Inc., and SR Metals, Inc.
The selection committee together with the PMIEA Secretariat, headed by the MGB, will conduct a field validation on the accomplishments of the nominees starting this month.