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The OceanaGold way for socio-cultural and environmental stewardship
OceanaGold Corporation is a gold mining company that is operating in Australia, Southeast Asia, North and South America.
In the Philippines, OceanaGold has been operating the open-pit Didipio Project since 2006 through the merger with Climax Mining.
The Didipio Gold-Copper Mine began its commercial operations in 2013.
It is located in the town of Kasibu,  a municipality in the province of Nueva Vizcaya.
This is located approximately 270 kilometers north of Manila.
Production started in April 2013 where the mine is producing several tonnes of copper and gold annually.
As a company, OceanGold has a humanitarian vision for its employees and for the people in the town where the mine is located.
This topic was discussed in February 2018 by OceanaGold Corporation’s President and CEO, Mr Mick Wilkes who was guest speaker at the Philippine Mining Club Luncheon.
A mining engineer, Mr. Wilkes has over three decades of international experience in precious and base metals in Asia and Australia.
He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) from the University of Queensland and a Master of Business Administration from Deakin University.
Mr Wilkes is also a member of both the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
During the Philippine Mining Club Luncheon Meeting, he covered many topics about the Didipio Mine and OceanaGold in general.
As an overview, Didipio Mine has a current FTAA area of 11,488 ha, with approved Environmental Compliance Certificate area of 975 ha, and current utilized area of 325.5 ha.
To start with, how is the gold performing in the world stock market? Mr Wilkes’ report shows that “the Global Gold Demand was weaker in 2017 with significantly less investment in gold (through Exchange-Traded Fund or ETF’s) and lower jewellery demand as Indian tax and regulation changed.
Gold demand for technology and from Central Banks remained relatively flat.
“The US economy and the impact of speculation around interest rate hikes and tax reforms were the main driver of a strengthening US dollar gold spot price.” Despite these conditions, the 2018 outlook is positive for gold, and economic growth in 2017 is expected to continue into 2018.
- EU and US economies have strengthened. Unemployment has fallen, wages are rising, and inflation remains low.
- China’s economy is expected to continue to grow, albeit at slower rates.
- India’s jewellery policies and taxes are expected to have a positive impact on the economy.
- Economic growth underpins gold demand i.e. jewellery, investment and technology. Consumer demand for gold (jewellery and investment) should improve in 2018.
Strong historical growth
- The US S&P 500 hit record highs in 2017 resulting in the loosest credit conditions since 1994.
- Asset valuations hit multi-year highs around the world in 2017.
- Chinese property prices almost doubled between Jan 2015 and Oct 2017.
- Investors are becoming wary of these valuations
- Gold spot prices could benefit from this market uncertainty.
One of the important parts of the speech of the CEO was emphasizing the OceanaGold Way.
“The OceanaGold Way, corporate governance framework underpin how we work–It is focused on health and safety policy, human rights, environmental stewardship, the culture and heritage of local communities, community development programs, and of course employment and diversity,” according to Mr Wilkes.
Additionally, he said, “Our vision in OceanaGold is to be the gold mining company of choice. And what does that mean? ‘We want to be the company that people want to work for, we want to be the company that other contractors want to work for, we want to be the company that suppliers want to supply to, we want to be the company that when you open the newspaper and see that there is a job in OceanaGold, you’d go into that. You want to work with that company.”
OcenaGold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) has provided 4000 jobs in 2013-2017 which is proof on how the Didipio Mine has contributed significantly to the local community and economy of Nueva Vizcaya.
The company also introduced the Underground Training Facility, the first Underground Metalliferous Mining Simulator in Asia. Graduates of the training will receive International Certificate II on Underground Metalliferous Mining Work Readiness Course. This is open to all mining companies.
The Didipio Mine has also exhibited environmental excellence, setting international benchmarks.
Here are the environmental highlights:
- Discharge water quality improved by 400%
- Diesel consumption decreased by 42%
- Water Treatment Plant: Significantly improves the quality of process water before discharge; discharge water quality better than quality of river water
- Connected to National Grid Power: Significantly reduced process plant diesel consumption; reduction in direct emissions
- Carbon Sink Project: Committed to providing 20,000 seedlings per year over 5 years
- Strategic Partnerships: Partnered with the International River Foundation This April, OceanaGold Philippine, Inc.
(OGPI) has been making headlines with their projects and achievements in pursuing their humanitarian vision. It was reported that their P41.1-million worth of road construction started this month. It is OGPI’s project for Didipio village. The 4.6-kilometer Dinaoyan Bypass Road project is funded the company in partnership with the local government of Didipio.
The goal of the project is to provide convenient roads for far communities in the area and to help farmers in transporting their crops to their market.
In general, the road is aimed to improve family and business connections by making travel time shorter and more efficient.
It was also reported that OGPI takes part in the government’s National Greening Program (NGP).
According to Mario Ancheta, MGB Cagayan Valley director, OGPI has already planted at least 2.1 million trees since 2010.  Their involvement in the program has given livelihood to local farmers who took part in the seedling production, planting, and maintenance of the tree planting locations.
Moreover, OceanaGold Sustainable Agro-Forestry Inc. (OGSAI), has planted bamboo, mahogany, narra, plus fruit-bearing species of trees as a means of rehabilitating Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino’s watershed area. OGSAI is a corporation assigned by OGPI for its reforestation and rehabilitation programs.
For the past 8 years, the Philippine Mining Club is closely affiliated with the Melbourne Mining Club.
The group was formed to create better relationships across all areas of the mining industry whose aim is to uphold a professional networking environment in promoting the exploration, extraction and minerals industry of the country.
For more information about the Philippine Mining Club Luncheon, please visit www.philippineminingclub.com or send your enquiries at info@ philippineminingclub.com
 Jocson, Brenda (16 April. 2018) “P41-m upland road project in Didipio begins.” The Standard. www.thestandard.com.ph/mobile/ article/263265
 Domingo, Leander C. (19 April 2018) “Vizcaya mining firms boost reforestation.” The Manila Times. www.manilatimes.net/vizcaya-miningfirms- boost-reforestation/393434/
Acknowledgment: Thanks to Kevin Lewis and Jocelyn Velarde of Philippine Mining Club for the additional references.