OCEANAGOLD CAUGHT UP IN PHILIPPINES MINING CRACKDOWN

OCEANAGOLD CAUGHT UP IN PHILIPPINES MINING CRACKDOWN

MELBOURNE-based OceanaGold (ASX: OGC) has been named by the Philippines government as one of 23 mining companies that may have operations suspended for failing an environmental audit.

The announcement sent shockwaves through commodities and finance markets when announced by Philippines environment undersecretary Leo Jasareno and environment secretary Gina Lopez on Tuesday.

OceanaGold's share price tumbled 8.28 per cent to $4.350 before being placed in a trading halt, despite the fact the mine will remain in production as the Philippines government investigates further.

OceanaGold President and CEO, Mick Wilkes, says he is disappointed with the comments made by Lopez and Jasareno and will seek clarification and reconsideration.

The company has won numerous awards related to safety and community engagement since it began operating the Didipio mine three years ago and it has also been certified by ISO 140001, a leading standard for environmental management systems.

"The Didipio Mine has a strong social license to operate. Our achievements since recommencement of construction in 2011 would not have been achieved without our steadfast commitment to the community and most importantly the strong endorsement from the residents of Didipio and the nine other communities in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino."

The Didipio operation employs more than 1,800 people, 98 per cent of whom the company says are Filipino people from local and regional communities.

The mine has paid US$70 million in taxes and royalties to the Philippines in the past three-and-a-half years.

It was reportedly the subject of a protest by 300 local people in late August, who demanded OceanaGold stop mining and leave the area. Tensions have been ongoing since at least 2011, when the company was the subject of a Phillipines Human Rights Commission investigation as a result of complaints from local people from the area.

The Philipines is in a period of upheaval following the election of populist president Rodrigo Duterte.

The country was the top producer of nickel worldwide in 2015.

 

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