From a sleepy barangay to a thriving economic hub: How OceanaGold Philippines transformed a town
by Philippine Resources - September 06, 2019
About 270-kilometers north of Metro Manila lies the mineral rich barangay of Didipio in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. It is home to some 4,000 people and the Didipio gold-copper mine.
OceanaGold is working with the Philippine government through the country’s first Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA)--an agreement that allows the large-scale exploration, development and utilization of gold, copper, nickel, and other metallic minerals in the Philippines.
The mine started its commercial production in 2013 and has since paved the way for a massive economic transformation, which connected the barangay to information, education, jobs, and markets.
“We felt the hardship before OceanaGold came to Didipio. There were no roads, our agricultural products were not able to reach the market. OceanaGold has given us our three basic needs: school, roads, and electricity. The business opportunities boomed and work opportunities increased when the Company started operating,” says Pastor Efren H. Bulawan, resident and one of the local leaders of Didipio.
Single dirt track and fire roads that were once only passable to pedestrians and motorcycles were turned to paved boulevards that facilitated movement of cars, goods, and people; suddenly, there was electricity and better cellular signal; suddenly, people from neighboring communities turned to Didipio for economic opportunities.
Growing opportunities from the land
The barangay’s pivot to mining did not stop OceanaGold from pouring support to community agriculture--after all, the barangay has been producing mountain vegetables and some palay. It is also home to some citrus farms, which have been reporting lower yields because of the citrus tristeza virus.
In 2015, Dr. Pio Javier, an entomologist from the University of the Philippines conducted an onsite investigation and validated the findings. His research included a forum to share methods for preventing further spread of the pest and disease infestation and production and post-harvest techniques.
The company's collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and the local government units paved the way for the empowerment of close to a hundred local Kasibu farmers on coffee production and some 30 farmers for organic vegetable production.
“In Didipio, there are vegetable farms situated very close to our operating mine. We know that they have excellent produce because we buy some of it through the community’s three local agricultural cooperatives. We have interventions in the production and marketing aspects to ensure that our local partners would have a solid capital and operational foundation,” said David Way, General Manager of OceanaGold Philippines Inc.
OceanaGold, recognizing that agriculture is a main economic activity, also supports ten other local agriculture cooperatives in ten communities adjacent to the mine.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
About 97% of OceanaGold’s employees are Filipinos, with more than half of the workforce coming from Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. In the mine’s first six years of operation, the company disbursed some PhP 2.5-billion in salaries.
To date, OceanaGold directly employs more than 1,500 people and provides additional employment opportunities for thousands more through cooperatives, suppliers and subsidized workers.
The mine requires a steady stream of mining specialists and technical experts. To safeguard this talent pipeline, OceanaGold runs training and scholarship programs which include the Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences program.
Every year, they allot scholarship slots and provide Php 170,000 in tuition fees and allowances to individual students who want to take up Mine Engineering, Geology, Metallurgical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Civil Engineering, as well as Bachelor of Science in Forestry, and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.
Engineering, geology, and metallurgy are professions that were not in the horizon of most Didipio residents before the mine came in. The continuous investment on capacity building of both employees and community members elevated their dreams, and tremendously increased their employability and likeliness to start their own businesses.
“We are seven in the family. When I was about to enter college, I knew my parents were worried as I had two other siblings who were in college. So, I worked in DiCorp for a time to earn money for my college education. It was there I saw that OceanaGold offered scholarships, so I applied, got in, and now I’m a mining engineer and working for the Company,” says Wilbur Habiling, resident and scholarship program graduate.
The need to provide for the basic needs of many workers--feeding them three times a day, seven days a week--necessitated auxiliary units, one of which is the Didipio Community Development Corporation (DiCorp).
DiCorp is owned and managed by the town’s residents, with 361 local shareholders and 279 local workers. It offers a multitude of services such as housekeeping, catering, camp administration, transport services and construction services. OceanaGold has awarded several contracts to DiCorp from 2011-2018 with total gross revenue amounting to PHP 1.5B (USD 28M). The growing enterprise is now worth PHP 85.5 million and has extended their services beyond the mine.
“DiCorp. is a perfect example of what local community enterprises can achieve if plugged in to value chains,” says David Way, General Manager of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. He adds, “DiCorp has come a long way and I am proud that it remains to be one of the largest taxpayers in Nueva Vizcaya.”
Technology and Infrastructure
No other private firm has contributed to the infrastructure growth of Didipio as OceanaGold – from roads to health centers, to school buildings and community centers.
In 2017 it made the dreams of local students and educators a reality through the construction of a PhP 43-million senior high school building at Eastern Nueva Vizcaya National High School.
The company has provided essential healthcare for students, improvement of school buildings, and construction of day care centers in the past. The high school building, however, is one of the biggest single investments made locally for education, and this was in view of the K-12 implementation, which some high schools in Metro Manila found hard to comply with.
OceanaGold directly supports infrastructure, training and education, health and enterprise development programs not only of Didipio but of ten other communities adjacent to the mine with combined population of about 15,000 residents.
A final anecdote from a resident
“I wasn’t able to take up high-school in Didipio because there was no high school then. Instead, I went to the municipality of Bayombong, which is about five hours away--very far from my family. I’m proud to say that I’m one of the graduates of the OceanaGold scholarship program. There are about 246 of us and I belong to those who took up courses like mining and geology.
For the past years, I worked as a mining engineer in the Didipio mine. I learned about the environment and how responsible OceanaGold is and I’m proud that we are where we are right now. OceanaGold offered a lot of opportunities to my community and to adjacent barangays. “The Company’s operation has been a blessing to us,” concludes Echievery Baguilat, Didipio’s first local mining engineer.
OceanaGold’s mine life is expected to last until 2032, by which time Didipio could reach or even surpass its full economic and social potential as a barangay in the midst of a lush greenery that characterizes most of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino, with all the necessities for a comfortable life.
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Philippine Resources - January 21, 2021
TVIRD-Agata COVID-19 Response Brings Relief to 10,000 Families, Livelihood to Rural Farmers
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines – that brought the nation’s economy to a virtual standstill and left thousands confined to hospitals, stricken with the deadly virus – communities in Mindanao have benefitted from an unexpected partner that immediately and actively responded to the government’s call to unity: and that is the country’s mining industry, which continues to support countrywide development.As of this writing, the industry has realigned some Php247 million of its collective Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) funds to provide relief for thousands of Filipinos in and around mining communities and close to 70,000 frontliners across the country.Immediate responsePrior to the realignment of SDMP to support relief operations, TVIRD’s Agata Mining Ventures Inc. already dispatched various Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) from Manila as part of its immediate response to the needs of medical frontliners in the Mindanao region. TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) has facilities in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte; Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur; and the adjacent municipalities of Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte Province where its Agata Nickel Project is located.To date, the TVIRD Group of Companies has shored-up critical PPEs: N95 face masks, face shields and surgical and examinations gloves to support COVID-19 frontliners, including LGUs, volunteers, medical workers, police and civilian volunteers as well as checkpoint personnel. It likewise sourced majority of its fresh vegetable from farmers and other goods from local establishments to provide relief to more than 10,000 families in its respective areas. The group’s joint relief efforts aim to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and has reached some 46 barangays consisting of its primary and secondary communities.Supporting local livelihoodWhile an estimated one million jobs have been “lost” as a result of the nationwide community quarantine, the challenges of a lockdown are even more pronounced in the hinterlands where a single day of lost livelihood can make or break agricultural and fishing communities who rely on their daily access to the market place. This is in addition to the challenge of putting food on their own tables for their families everyday.Agata sought to bridge this need by sourcing organic vegetables from its TESDA-certified Mabakas Farm School and its graduates under the program. Together with its beneficiary farmers, locally-sourced ampalaya (bitter gourd), kalabasa (squash), okra, sitaw (string beans) and eggplants were included in relief packs – which were distributed to 2,647 families in its three host municipalities.Recipients also included the company’s employees in the mine site and the indigenous Mamanwas who are themselves farmers who would have otherwise faced the risk of spoilage of their produce due to ECQ restrictions on transportation. Over 11,000 kilos of assorted vegetables were included in more than 5,200 relief and vegetable packs distributed by the company – a testament that its production model under the Mabakas framework is sustainable. TVIRD likewise rolled-out a weeklong food distribution program and reached-out to almost 7,424 families in the Zamboanga Peninsula. The company’s site personnel and officers sought to alleviate the residents’ difficulties by providing rice, vegetables, canned goods and noodles.Special attention was also given to the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with disabilities (PWDs) since they are limited to their homes under the GCQ Protocol. Beneficiaries also include nearly 1,400 Subanen families and farmers from Bayog Municipality whose produce are included in the relief packs. Frontliners in Zamboanga PeninsulaThrough its Balabag Office, TVIRD contributed several boxes of PPEs to major government hospitals, rural health units and birthing clinics in the Zamboanga Peninsula region.Beneficiary institutions include the Zamboanga Sibugay Provincial Hospital, Wilfredo C. Palma Memorial Hospital in Diplahan, Rural Health Units (RHU) in the joint provinces, Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Hospital in Pagadian City, and Siocon District Hospital – which also serves patients from its 26 barangays and nearby Sirawai and Baliguian towns.“TVIRD backs the government’s campaign against the disease. We are one with the frontliners – and providing them with protection and food is our way of sharing their load,” said TVIRD Balabag Project Manager Engr. Hilario Gingo, Jr.As the first company to be licensed under the Philippine Mining Law, TVIRD established its presence in the Zamboanga Peninsula some 25 years ago and has since fostered a deep relationship with its communities, especially the Subanon and Subanen tribes. The commercial operations of Agata marks the third consecutive project that TVIRD brought on-stream in a period of 10 years. Today, TVIRD-Agata has cultivated strong and resilient communities, self-sustaining indigenous hosts tribe and over 1,300 graduates from its Mabakas Organic Farm School who are aligible for TESDA National Certification.“‘Starting it right and keeping the end in mind’ has guided the company in achieving sustainable operations focused on progressive and final rehabilitation. By providing skills and infrastructure, we endeavour that our communities can sustain themselves beyond the life of the mine,” according to Agata Assistant GM Anthony Quijano.
Philippine Resources - January 21, 2021
Taganito Mining Donates 7k Workbooks for Surigao Del Norte
As part of its commitment to support the education sector, Nickel Asia Corporation subsidiary, Taganito Mining Corporation, donated 7,172 workbooks to the provincial government of Surigao del Norte, in time for the opening of classes. The Php 2 million worth set of English and Mathematics workbooks is part of the company's Social Development and Management Program. The turnover of workbooks was led by TMC Resident Mine Manager Artemio Valeroso in the presence of Governor Francisco Matugas and Dr. Nelia Lomocso, the schools division superintendent of the Department of Education for Siargao, Surigao del Norte Division. In a certificate signed by Gov. Matugas, he thanked TMC “for the wholehearted support in the various undertakings of the Provincial Government which has been instrumental in the success of the Education Caravan School Year 2020-2021”.“NAC-TMC is one with the province of Surigao del Norte in helping our schools become ‘back-to-school ready,” said Valeroso“We are very happy and very thankful. We sincerely thank the Taganito Mining Corporation for this great donation. This will go a long way. The workbooks will be for the benefit of our learners in the island paradise of Siargao,” Lomocso said. Since 2015, TMC has been a partner of the province in the annual Education Caravan wherein various educational supplies such as books, bags, and health kits were distributed to students in Surigao del Norte as well as Siargao island.
Philippine Resources - January 21, 2021
Washing Worries Away with TMC’s Hand Washing Facilities
The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed schools all over the country to implement measures to reduce the risk of contracting the virus among students, teachers, parents and the community as a whole. In solidarity with this effort, Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) volunteered to provide hand washing facilities to 29 schools within Claver, Gigaquit and Surigao City as part of its Social Development and Management Program.A total of 52 hand washing units were distributed to public elementary and high schools to support efforts to encourage frequent hand washing as a way to protect oneself from the COVID-19 virus. Rendering support during the yearly opening of classes has been an annual commitment of TMC to the education sector. While schools have turned to online and modular learning modes, teachers still have to report to school and parents need to pick up and submit accomplished modules of their children. Thus, as with other establishments, schools are required to install hand washing facilities at their entry points.Aside from donating to schools, TMC also gave out hand washing facilities to the local government units of the Municipality of Bacuag, barangays Binacoran and Villa Riza in Municipality of Malimono, and the Philippine Red Cross - Surigao del Norte Chapter.“They say, friendship is essentially a partnership…Thank you so much NAC- Taganito Mining Corp. For these two sets of Portable hand washing facility […] Quezon ES will be forever grateful to you.” – Ms. Maricar Tabacon Lisondra, teacher, Quezon Elementary School“Panatao Elementary School teaching staff, parents, and learners would like to thank Taganito Mining Corporation for the Improvised hand washing facility given to the school. Thank you so much for your continuous and never-ending support to our school.” - Ms. Judith S. Pere, Principal, Panatao Elementary School“Thank you so much Taganito Mining Corporation for sharing another blessing to Claver National High School. We, faculty and staff, learners and parents, are so grateful for your generosity.” - Rodelio Cortez, teacher, Claver National High School
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Philippine Resources - May 23, 2023
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT SIGNED WITH TVI RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT (PHILS.) INC.
Photo credit: TVI Resource Development The Board of RTG Mining Inc. is pleased to announce that a comprehensive settlement of all outstanding issues with the Villar Family controlled Sage Capital and TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. (“TVIRD”) has been reached and a binding Memorandum of Agreement signed. On execution of the final documents, expected in the next month, all litigation that RTG had launched will be withdrawn as part of an agreed restructuring of the Mabilo Project. The Villar Family is one of the most prominent families in the Philippines and RTG is pleased to partner with them in the development of the Mabilo Project, which is a significant mining project for the country. The key terms of the agreement for RTG include the following: RTG (through SRM Gold Limited) will retain a 40% interest in Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corporation (“Mt. Labo”) with the project also developed by Mt. Labo, in line with Philippine regulatory requirements, with Sage Capital (which is owned by TVIRD) holding the remaining 60%; RTG will have a 2% net smelter royalty (“NSR”); RTG’s debt together with interest, currently in the order of US$27M (subject to audit) will be repaid out of the proceeds of Stage 1 of the project, the Direct Shipping Operation subject to customary requirements to address liquidity and ongoing operations of Mt. Labo; Funding arrangements for the project as between the major shareholders of Mt. Labo have been successfully renegotiated, (relieving RTG of a sole funding obligation) and replaced with a pro-rata funding obligation, together with a disproportionate funding obligation of Sage Capital, as set out below; With debt repayments in full and the NSR, RTG will be entitled to approximately 57% of the proceeds of Stage 1, the Direct Shipping Operation; RTG will be entitled to 40% of the operating cashflow of the project, together with the 2% NSR and repayment of its debt, which is currently in the order of US$27M; The first US$5M of expenditure for Mt. Labo (or 12 months of expenditure, whichever occurs the earlier), will be funded pro-rata between the two shareholders (ie RTG will provide 40%) and thereafter, Sage Capital/TVIRD will sole fund the next US$5M of expenditure, with all additional funding thereafter to be provided on a pro-rata basis; All parties are required to act in the best interests of the project and not compete; A shareholders’ agreement will be finalised which will provide typical minority interest protection clauses including reserve matters for voting including annual budgets and appointments of key personnel; Any disputes will be resolved by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre; and On completion of final signed documents, all litigation matters will be withdrawn and settled in full. With the restructuring of the Mabilo Project now agreed, over the balance of this year, the remaining permitting matters and financing plans will be finalised, a review of the 2016 Feasibility Study will be completed, together with finalising the acquisition of surface rights, following which, a commitment to development will be formalised by the Board of Mt. Labo. RTG is pleased with the outcome of the discussions and the co-operative and constructive approach adopted by the Villar Family representatives. RTG believes they can be a strong and positive partner to work with to take the Mabilo Project forward, with both a near term development and future exploration activities to expand the project, which will start to unlock the value of the project for all stakeholders, not only the local communities but for the country as a whole.
Philippine Resources - May 22, 2023
Mining Operational Excellence Through Digital Transformation
Part 1: Mining Operation Challenges and Mine Operations Management Domains 1 & 2. By Mae Ann Cabasag, EM Mining companies encounter numerous challenges throughout their operations. However, initiatives to mitigate these challenges and improve efficiency are often limited. Most of these limitations emanated from a common factor: the challenge of “poor visibility” in mining operations. A viable solution is to adopt digital transformation in mining operations by incorporating available real-time data into an integrated system— capable of ensuring automatic updates and reliable source of information. Through this, mining companies not only understand simulations and plans developed but also anticipate potential outcomes. Various mining industry analysts have found that using non-digital methods in the mining operations can lead to a 27% reduction in production time and 25% increase in data inaccuracy. For a mining company to remain competitive in an industry susceptible to operation challenges, i.e. production processes, workers’ and equipment performances, ore quality and quantity, compliance to regulations, and inter-departmental collaboration, it needs to embrace digital transformation. Dassault Systèmes Mine Operations Management provides transformative digital solution for mining companies to achieve excellence in their operations. Mine Operations Management (MOM) equips mining companies with an integrated system for their mining operations, enabling them to achieve efficient plan and schedule. This system integrates entire operation data into a single repository source of information, known as the “single source of truth”, ensuring complete transparency of the company’s processes from mine to port. By leveraging MOM, we can address the following global mining industry challenges: Maintaining competitiveness amidst market volatility. Eliminating waste materials, poor communication, and error duplication. Improving site productivity and efficiency. Utilizing assets and sharing best practices across the value chain. Ensuring an utmost level of safety. Reducing environmental impacts and achieving sustainable operations. The transformative digital solution, Mine Operations Management, is composed of eight work packages, split across four domains, namely: Data Management, Material Reconciliation, Operational Control, and Assets Performance. These domains help generate valuable insights from integrated operational data for rapid and informed strategic decision-making. The Data Management consists of Master Data Model and Integration Framework packages essential for material tracking, stockpile management, task and workforce management, machine performance, and asset maintenance. It enables users to manage master data objects such as Site, Material, Location, Equipment, and Operator through manual data entry or third-party source systems. With this, mining companies can ensure efficient and integrated management of critical data required for seamless operations. Material Reconciliation, on the other hand, consists of Material Tracking and Stockpile Management packages. Material Tracking enables us to track material movements across different stages, i.e. from the least accurate grade estimated in geological model to the most precise information on shipped material quantity and quality, to account for any inaccuracies. While in the Stockpile Management, users not only can calculate daily stockpile balance, add Survey or Sampling data, analyze inventory levels and trends, create graphical representation of the stockpile balances and movements, calibrate stockpile using volumetric survey and sampling, enables comparison of different models, track movement genealogy and review stockpile slices for stockpiles with LIFO and FIFO calculation type but can create a different type of analysis such as actual vs plan vs model. In the upcoming article, we will explore the two remaining domains of Mine Operations Management to where assigning operational tasks, tracking compliance to plan, monitoring equipment down to workers’ performance are feasible in the mining operations. To know more about MOM, mining innovations and solutions, contact Dassault Systèmes Value Solutions Partner: Paramina Earth Technologies Inc. through firstname.lastname@example.org References: Make it happen for mine execution excellence: Dassault Systèmes®. MEGATrends. (n.d.). https://events.3ds.com/make-it-happen-for-mine-execution-excellence Dassault Systèmes. (2021, August 12). Digging deeper: The virtual solution for Mining Operational Excellence. Dassault Systèmes. https://discover.3ds.com/virtual-mining-operational excellence dassault3ds. (2022, June 16). The mining industry needs to adapt, but how? Dassault Systèmes blog. https://blog.3ds.com/brands/delmia/the-mining-industry-needs-to-adapt-but-how/
Philippine Resources - May 22, 2023
Customer’s First Choice: Sandvik Philippines Delivers 11th and 12th Pantera DP1500i Drills to Filminera Resources Corporation
Sandvik Philippines has successfully commissioned and delivered to loyal customer Filminera Resources Corporation (“Filminera”) their 11th and 12th Pantera DP1500i Top-hammer Surface Drills last 25 January 2023 at the Masbate Gold Project (MGP) located in Masbate Island, Philippines. Photo shows Sandvik Technician Larry Lugnas (second from left) and Service Operations Manager Jorge Cabello (third from left) handing over the drills to MGP representatives. Located 360 km southeast of Manila, the Masbate Mine is operated by Filminera, the Philippine subsidiary of TSX- and NYSE-listed B2Gold with headquarters in Vancouver. In 2022, the mine produced a record-setting 212,728 oz of gold out of 7.93M tonnes of ore milled at an average grade of 1.11 g/t. B2Gold also operates the Fekola Mine in Mali and the Otjikoto Mine in Namibia. Their projects under development include the Anaconda Area in Mali and the Gramalote JV Project in Colombia. The Masbate Mine started operating in 2008 initially using 4 x Atlas Copco ECM660 Drills owned and operated by the erstwhile mining contractor, Leighton. When the opportunity for re-fleeting came about in 2012, Sandvik succeeded in winning the tender which came packaged with a full maintenance contract for 24,000 service meter hours of five years. Ironically, the said maintenance contract almost led to the cancellation of the order for the first 4 x DP1500i due to a dispute with the rates. Eventually, both Leighton and Sandvik were able to arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement, and Sandvik ran the service contract for five years without incurring penalties in the availability guarantees. The contract was so profitable, Sandvik even had to share some of the residual profit at the end with Filminera under the pain-and-gain proviso of the contract. The next re-fleeting opportunity came in 2017, with the Masbate Mine. This time, there was no service contract attached to the equipment and Leighton was no longer the mining contractor; the mine has shifted to owner-miner operation. Sandvik managed to secure the repeat order for another batch of 4x DP1500i, banking on the proven performance and reliability of the first four. That brings the total to 8 units. Drill numbers 9 and 10 were ordered in July 2020 and delivered in 2021. Numbers 11 and 12 in the photo above were ordered in January 2022 and are now handed over to the customer. Filminera ordered two more DP1500i’s in November 2022; these machines are now awaiting completion in Tampere, for delivery later this year. That should bring the total to 14 x DP1500i units spread over 11 years for our most loyal Pantera DP1500i customer in the Philippines – Filminera Resources Corporation!
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