Tuesday 18 October 2016 03:40 PM
OceanaGold says Didipio audit report finds miner complies with law, must communicate more
By Jonathan Underhill
Oct. 18 (BusinessDesk) - Oceanagold Corp, the NZX-listed gold miner, says an audit of its Didipio mine by the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) found it was in compliance with its permits but must do more to communicate with stakeholders.
Melbourne-based Oceanagold was among 23 mining companies named at a media conference given by DENR secretary Gina Lopez and head of mining audit Leo Jasareno last month that could have operations suspended because of outstanding social issues. Since then the company has said it's engaged in "constructive" dialogue after the Philippines government, including the DENR officials.
"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," chief executive Mick Wilkes said in a statement. "The vast majority of recommendations relate to the need to further expand the company’s information, education and communication program." He said concerns raised at the DENR media conference last month "were not included as findings outlined in the audit report".
The company didn't release the report itself. Among the findings it did cite were "illegal artisanal small scale mining activities" in the Didipio area "that contribute to the degradation of the immediate environment and waterbodies" and a recommendation for government agencies to crack down on that.
Wilkes says the company has seven days to address the report's findings and recommendations. "I am very confident that our responses to the DENR will satisfy all of the findings and recommendations that have been raised," he said.
Lopez was quoted in the Philippines Star in August as saying she would look into complaints of several environmental groups regarding corrupt officials at DENR. Protesters had come from mining-affected communities including from the Nueva Vizcaya region where the Didipio Gold and Copper mine is located.
The company operates the Macraes and Reefton mines in the South Island. Last year it acquired the Waihi mine from Newmont Mining Corp and it is also developing the Haile mine in the US, where commercial production is slated to start in early 2017.
Shares in Oceanagold rose 7.2 percent to $4.19 and have gained 49 percent this year.