Aussie mine firm halts N. Vizcaya operations

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Australian mining firm OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. on Tuesday announced it was stopping work at its US$117-million gold-copper project in upland Kasibu town, amid a series of controversies that has hounded its operations in the past six months.

A statement, Darren Clinck, vice president for corporate and investor relations, said OceanaGold was suspending a number of construction contracts as it tries to cut down on company expenses while looking for additional funding.

“As a result, the project completion date is expected to extend beyond mid-year 2009,” he said.

A statement on its website also quoted Steve Orr, OceanaGold chief executive officer, as saying that the company needs about US$185 million in additional cash, and is considering a number of options to meet this need, including acquiring loans and entering into mergers with other companies.

“There has been significant interest in these options from various financial institutions and other gold companies,” Orr said.

OceanaGold’s announcement came in the wake of a number of controversies that had caused delay in the firm’s operations, the latest of which was the injunction order issued last week by the Regional Trial Court here on the ongoing demolition of houses within its project site.

Since December, it has been clearing the 425-hectare land in Didipio for its mineral production site, in an attempt to meet its earlier target to start gold and copper production by February 2009.

Its activities have also been put under investigation by the committee on cultural communities in the House of Representatives, following complaints of alleged violations it has committed against villagers in the area.

Earth-moving work have likewise been hampered by a cease-and-desist order issued by Gov. Luisa Cuaresma for the company’s supposed failure to pay the province over P28 million in quarry taxes and business licenses.

OceanaGold, however, clarified that it will continue to maintain around 200 employees presently assigned in “other project-related activities, community relations, health and safety, and environmental programs”.

Ramoncito Gozar, OceanaGold vice president for communications and external affairs, said the temporary stoppage does not mean the company was about to give up on the project, since it has already spent about US$45 million since pre-development work began.

“While the company currently has approximately US$95 million in its treasury, we need to put in place supplemental financing for the project,” he said.

News on OceanaGold’s two-month stoppage of operations drew varying reactions here from officials and residents.

Vice Gov. Jose Gambito said it was “prudent” for the company to suspend its activities in order to “cool down escalating tension”, referring to the ongoing dispute with the provincial government.

“(The decision of suspension) must have been a reaction of stockholders of the company over unsettled issues,” he said.

Village officials of Didipio confirmed the scaling down of construction activities in the area, mostly involving projects that were being carried out by private contractors.

“After a long while, company representatives have consulted members of the (Didipio) council explaining some modifications to the project plan. We’ll see what happens next,” said village council member Carmen Ananayo.

Peter Duyapat, president of the Didipio Earth-Savers’ Multi-purpose Association (Desama), a people’s organization that has led opposition to the Didipio gold-copper project, said that while they welcomed the suspension, they remain wary about its possible re-opening.

“This may be the beginning of victory, but the fight is not over yet. We will remain to be vigilant as we have been in the past,” he said in


8 thoughts on “Relief

  1. aha!! the saga continues , this will be the second movie melvin , could this ever continuing saga be the begining of the end or the ramping up of futher mining activities ? watch out for further thrilling episodes of melvins movies!! the number one hit in nueva vizcaya with the main players melvin, ifugaos and the irate nganga eaters versus the big bad aussie miners!! will the miners leave giving victory to the the locals or will they merge with another big player starting up construction work again upsetting the greenies ?, will the president intervene throwing her weight behind those naughty miners ?, good grief !!the possiblities are endless creating more movies for melvin who will have to move to the united states producing fabulous sagas of historic struggles filipino style!! its great stuff melvin well done!! i am eagerly waiting the next movie mel, you are a champion!! no wonder the girls love u mel u r pogi regards and best wishes eaglelover

  2. mel why dont you talk to darren klinck he is a very nice man who could dispel any fears you have , you might get you a scoop!! , oceanagold are not the monsters you make out!! there may be fault on both sides so do the right thing and interview darren you may be surprised !! regards eagelover

  3. brainteaser you are a gentle flower and to be praised but in reality we all now live in the fast lane and the benefits from the mine outweigh the negatives!! more filipinos will eat better because of the aussies mine !! god bless you princess of peace regards eaglelover

  4. brainteaser, you and your indigenous people should wake up!! my niece who is married to a native with four children the youngest child 7 months old has had a stroke and the husband took her to the local witch doctor on a tuesday she was unconcious and still is my sister inlaw took her to the hospital on thursday she is still there!! so much for the intelligence of your greenie friends !!live in the dark ages by all means but do not take us all there you fool !! this is 2008 so wake up i love my filipino relatives with a passion if i could bring them all here to australia i would!! at least here they would be cared for not treated like second class people!! what hope does your country have may god help shame on you

  5. Stand up Novo Vizcayanos and fight for our native land! Preserve the pristine and primitive nature of our beloved land. We do not need any toxic or disturbance to our peaceful environment.

    And for the “eaglelover”, the presence of the Australian firm in Nueva Vizcaya will not impact the lives of the indingent people financially. The foreign firm will make huge profit and take advantage of our cheap labor for their own advantage. The people of Nueva Vizcaya will be left cleaning up the mess of this greedy firm.

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