NUEVA VIZCAYA: The Didipio Mine in Kasibu town in this province will grow its assets by some $200 million more, or about 20 million tons of stockpile on the surface by 2017, according to OceanaGold, an Australian mining firm.
Sam Pazuki, OceanaGold’s Toronto-based head of investor relations, said that when the open pit in their Didipio Copper and Gold Project is completed at the end of 2017, the company will have 20 million tons of stockpile on the surface.
“That’s a US$200 million asset,” Pazuki said adding, “from a technical risk perspective, it’s a strong mitigator … because there won’t be any downtime in the mill.”
In moving towards completion of its open pit by 2017, OceanaGold has already made progress in its underground development work, which started last year, and has made “good progress on optimization.”
Pazuki said that last year, the project development team decided the best approach was to start underground development work one year earlier than planned, and to access high-grade material two years earlier than planned.
Pazuki said underground development work began in March and is on track to produce the first ore from underground by the end of 2017.
“In the original mine plan it was always an open pit that would go out until 2020 and that we’d start producing from underground in 2020 until 2028,” Pazuki says.
But with the optimization study, Pazuki said “we’re accelerating the completion of the open pit, which will now go to the end of 2017 bringing forward the development of the underground by one year and production from underground by two years.”
Pazuki also said that they made the open pit smaller and made the underground larger so that they will be able to access high-grade material from underground.
“This is so because it’s super high grade [ore]that we’ll be able to access earlier than in the mine plan,” Pazuki said.
Meanwhile, OceanaGold is also building a power line to connect Didipio to the power grid.
The company has been running on diesel power generation since the operation began in 2013.
“By connecting to the power grid, it will see a significant savings in operating costs given that, currently, 30 percent of our operation costs are associated with diesel fuel consumption,” Pazuki said.
The official said the company is on track to be on the power grid by the fourth quarter of this year, and that the management will also continue to look for other opportunities that might make sense and enhance shareholder wealth.
“We want to be in the traffic to make sure we won’t miss any opportunities,” Pazuki said.
OceanaGold is a significant multinational gold and copper producer with over 24 years of operations in New Zealand and more recently the Philippines. Its flagship operation is the Didipio Mine located in the northern Philippines, which commenced commercial production on April 1, 2013 and has a current mine life to 2030.
In 2015, the company said it expects to produce 295,000 to 335,000 ounces of gold from the combined New Zealand and Didipio operations and 21,000 to 23,000 tons of copper from the Didipio operations.