SANTIAGO CITY, Isabela: Australian OceanaGold miner has started drilling of an underground resource under its Didipio Gold-Copper Project in Kasibu town in Nueva Vizcaya.
“I am pleased to report that the investment we’ve made thus far on exploration this year continues to yield strong results that demonstrate the significant organic growth potential of our business,” Mick Wilkes, OceanaGold president and chief executive officer, said.
Wilkes added that the drilling is designed to increase confidence in the underground Didipio resource.
Test for depth extensions below the current mine design, he said, commenced this month.
“We are expecting to drill approximately 50,000 meters as part of the Didipio underground drill program,” Wilkes added.
He said that under the Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), early stage exploration, which covers six priority targets, is “well advanced to better define and prioritize drill targets.”
The company’s exploration program includes geological mapping, surface rock chip sampling, infill and expanded grid soil surveys and detailed ground magnetic surveys.
“Exploration drilling is scheduled for this quarter,” Wilkes said.
OceanaGold officials said they have completed mining of stage five of the Didipio open pit during the second quarter, putting the company on track to meet its target of starting production from the underground development by the end of next year.
Last March, the company’s five-year extension of its exploration period under its FTAA was approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), allowing the company to resume exploration activities at the mine until it expires in 2021.
Because of civil society groups’ allegations that OceanaGold’s exploration program poses danger to agricultural lands and surrounding areas, Gov. Carlos Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya has requested Environment Secretary Regina Lopez to review the company’s exploration activities.
In response, Lopez immediately sent a team to investigate and she had reportedly threatened to revoke the company’s exploration permit.
OceanaGold (Philippines) Inc. officials said the company has not received any official advisory ordering the cancellation of its exploration permit.
OGPI Chaiman Joey Leviste said there were rumors that the firm’s exploration permit was already canceled “but we found out that this only came from anti-mining groups.”