Jobseekers jubilant at Didipio’s re-opening
by Abe Almirol - August 23, 2021
Photo Credit: Abe Almirol - Workers at the Didipio underground mine hopes to return to work after OceanaGold advised the renewal of its FTAA with the Philippine national government.
A month after Australian-Canadian miner OceanaGold Corporation (OGC) announced that the company hurdled a breakthrough after more than two years of operational stand-by in Didipio, jobseekers virtually flocked to the company’s local social media page.
Didipio mine is OGC’s major asset in the Philippines located 364 kilometres north of Manila. It is under the Financial and/or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) scheme provided by the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which was renewed for another 25 years after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed the agreement, its effectivity commencing June 19, 2021.
The social media page “Didipio Mine” has made its following jump to 18,264 with 17,159 likes after a month when job openings were posted.
At least 174 job openings were recently announced. OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI), the company’s local subsidiary and holder of the FTAA, has 141 positions open as announced in various social media posts from July 21 to August 4.
Its homegrown contractor, DiCorp, also announced 19 vacancies. SGS Philippines, its assay laboratory contractor, has two jobs open while Delta Earthmoving has 12 vacancies announced recently.
The Didipio Mine page has pledged to abide by the Data Privacy Act to assure applicants that any sensitive information they passed to the hiring department will be treated with strict confidentiality.
“Didipio Mine employees work on a family-friendly roster schedule (10 days on/5 days off; 14 days on/7 days off; 20 days on/10 days off and 28 days on/14 days off) and working 11- hour shifts. Meals and accommodations are provided for non Didipio residents in the mine’s camp facilities,” the job offer reads.
As new jobs are generated, the government hopes for an economic rebound from the effects of lockdowns last year. Income taxes paid by Didipio mine employees alone has made the Bureau of Internal Revenue district here as a top achiever in terms of collection since 2013.
Locals First Policy
One of the demands raised by residents when they opted to endorse the first FTAA in 1994 is to have the right to priority employment. As this is easier said than done, OGPI explored many options to abide by this commitment of its predecessor companies.
OGPI’s most notable innovation is the creation of DiCorp, a local company established by long-time residents whose lands were affected during the construction of the Didipio mine. Since the mine needs a variety of services such as laundry, housekeeping, food catering and transport, OGPI encouraged those compensated with large sums of money for their lands to invest in DiCorp.
DiCorp was established before Didipio mine commenced commercial operation in 2013. It has played a major role in the operation of the mine since then.
“Today and onwards, we see a brighter future, better opportunities and hopefully a stronger DiCorp in terms of dedicated, sensible and responsible staff, improved income, and credibility,” said Simplicia D. Ananayo, who was then serving at the Community Relations Office when DiCorp was established 10 years ago.
Ananayo has retired after reaching the mandatory age serving at the Community Relations Office of OGPI. She is now part of DiCorp’s top management since she had acquired some of the company stocks when it was established.
Hope in Pandemic Times
The resumption of Didipio mine’s operation will certainly boost the country’s economic survival amidst pandemic times. As hundreds of companies went broke or were forced to close, and even Filipinos gainfully employed oversees came home, Didipio mine is a good choice of employment.
Furthermore, the new FTAA widened the scope of its Social Development Management Plan (SDMP). The company explained that the FTAA was renewed on substantially the same terms and conditions and includes the following modifications:
- The equivalent of an additional 1.5% of gross revenue to be allocated to community development.
- Reclassification of Net Smelter Return to be an allowable deduction and shared 60%/40% rather than wholly included in government share.
- Listing of at least 10% of the common shares in OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (“OGPI”), the Company’s Philippine operating subsidiary and holder of the FTAA, on the Philippine Stock Exchange within the next three years.
- OGPI shall offer for purchase by the Philippine Central Bank not less than 25% of its annual gold doré production at fair market price and mutually agreed upon terms.
- Transfer of OGPI’s principal office to a host province within the next two years.
“The additional 1.5% allocated to community development will take the form of increased contributions to communities in the region and provincial development projects. While the existing fund for Social Development and Management Program will continue to be provided for the host and neighbouring communities, 1.0% of the additional 1.5% will be allocated to community development for additional communities and 0.5% to the host Provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino,” OGC explained in a press statement.
Marcelle P. Villegas - September 30, 2019
OceanaGold: Philippine Court of Appeals Sets Hearing Date for Injunction
(Photo courtesy of Mr Jason Magdaong, OceanaGold Phils. Inc. - “Didipio Mine: The Renewal of the Philippines’ First FTAA”) According to OceanaGold Corporation (Melbourne), the Philippines Court of Appeals in Manila had set last 18 September 2019 as the hearing date for the company's application for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction. This is part of the company's appeal against the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Court ruling of denying OceanaGold Phils. Inc.’s (OGPI) request to end the unlawful restraint of operations. The Provincial Local Government Units of Nueva Vizcaya (PLGU) has been impeding access to the mine site since 1 July 2019. This is in response to an unlawful directive from the Governor to 'restrain any operations of the company. OGPI points out that the regulatory authority over the Didipio Mine rests with the National Government. They also clarified that the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160) does not grant the power of authority to the Provincial Governor or any local government officer to restrain any aspect of the Didipio operation.  OGPI continues to work with the National Government to finalise the renewal of their Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) and remains open to the opportunity to engage with the Provincial government and work together in the best interest of the local stakeholders. The Company remains strongly committed to operating in accordance with the law and will always comply with its responsibility under its contract with the Philippine Government.  Mr Mick Wilkes, President and CEO of OceanaGold said, "The Company has successfully developed and operated the Didipio Mine in the Philippines with a focus on delivering socio-economic benefits to local communities utilising international best practices and gaining a strong social license to operate. OceanaGold has established sound and collaborative relationships with regulatory authorities and stakeholders based on mutual respect." "While this process is taking some time, we will always operate in line with our values and commitment to responsible mining, and this means working transparently with the Philippine regulatory authorities to maximise the speed of the renewal. We are encouraged by the engagement with the government to date as we continue to work towards a mutually-acceptable path forward on the FTAA renewal." "I would like to recognise our world-class Philippine workforce of 1,500 workers who have remained focused on safety and preserving optionality at site during this uncertain time. We are proud to have positively contributed to the Barangay of Didipio, Province of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino and neighbouring communities since 2012."  The Didipio Mine of OceanaGold Phils. is an underground gold and copper mine located across the provinces of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya. The mine operation has received numerous awards such as two Presidential Awards for being the most environmentally and socially responsible mining operations in the Philippines. Overseas, the company was awarded the 1st ASEAN Mineral Award for best practices in sustainable development. OceanaGold's Didipio mine site (Philippines) is considered one of the safest gold mining operations in the world because for the past two years, the company has deployed state-of-the-art automated and digital underground mining technology. For the past years, OGPI’s Didipio project has been providing significant socio-economic assistance to the province of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. Other than providing jobs to 1,500 workers (97% are Filipinos, 59% are from local communities) the company also provides several thousands of additional livelihood opportunities and indirect jobs through partnerships with cooperatives and social development organisations. As an international company, OceanaGold Corporation is a mid-tier, high-margin, multinational gold producer with assets located in the Philippines, New Zealand and the United States. The Company's assets encompass the Didipio Gold-Copper Mine located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. In New Zealand, OceanaGold Corporation operates the high-grade Waihi Gold Mine, the Frasers mine, and the largest gold mine in the country at the Macraes Goldfield.  In the United States, the Company operates the Haile Gold Mine in South Carolina. The Haile Gold Mine is a top-tier, long-life, high-margin asset. OceanaGold Corporation also has a significant pipeline of organic growth and exploration opportunities in the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions. From their media release, the Company states, “OceanaGold has operated sustainably since 1990 with a proven track-record for environmental management and community and social engagement. The Company has a strong social license to operate and works with its valued stakeholders to identify and invest in social programs that are designed to build capacity and not dependency.”  “In 2019, the Company expects to produce between 500,000 to 550,000 ounces of gold and 14,000 to 15,000 tonnes of copper at All-In Sustaining Costs ranging between $850 and $900 per ounce sold.”  #DidipioMine #OceanaGoldPH #ResponsibleMining #Philippines Reference:  OceanaGold Corporation Media Release - 13 Sept. 2019, retrieved from - https://www.oceanagold.com/investor-centre/news-releases/ Photos: Courtesy of OceanaGold (Phils.) Inc. - Retrieved from - https://www.oceanagold.com/downloads/images/
Abe Almirol - June 21, 2021
OceanaGold opens health facility for Covid-19 patients
OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) has opened an isolation facility for patients infected with Covid-19 at its host community in Didipio here. The facility is also open for patients from its neighboring villages. Inaugurated last June 15, the Didipio Family Health Center (DFHC) can accommodate up to 15 people with separate room allocations for confirmed cases, suspected cases, and close contacts individuals. The facility is complete with medicine for patients with respiratory problems. It is also equipped with oxygen and rapid antigen test kits. OGPI will also allocate one of its company nurses to take special regular duty at DFHC. Following the inauguration of the facility, the four barangay health workers of Barangay Didipio have already transferred to the newly refurbished DFHC facility. The initiative came following the surge of Covid-19 cases in Didipio and neighboring barangays soaring up to 147 cases since March. In his remarks during the facility inauguration, Mayor Romeo Tayaban emphasized the importance of an established isolation structure while noting the continuous rising of cases in the region. “Let’s make this DFHC useful for the next generation,” he said. The mining company allocated around P1.6 million for the procurement of equipment, medical supplies, and the much-needed repairs of the health facility. DFHC will be operated by the barangay LGU with the supervision of the municipal health office here. Village acting chair Henry Guay, in coordination with MHO and OGPI, is now working on the accreditation of the facility by DOH so that PhilHealth members could avail of their benefits when confined to the facility. Dr. Elizabeth Joaquin, municipal health officer of Kasibu, looks forward to the development of DFHC as a hospital in the future so it can cater more patients even from other areas of Kasibu. Engr. Edgar Rivera, officer-in-charge of OGPI, emphasized the importance of mutual cooperation amon the LGUs, community, and private sector in overcoming the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. “As long as OGPI is here, we continue to work with our stakeholders to provide necessary support in the achievement of their goals,” he said. The Covid-19 infections continue to create havoc as more areas outside the National Capital Region become areas of concern. Cagayan Valley was placed under the more restrictive MECQ until the end of the month.
Philippine Resources - July 14, 2021
OceanaGold Announces Didipio FTAA Renewal
OceanaGold Corporation today advises that the Philippine Government has renewed the Didipio Mine Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (“FTAA”) for an additional 25-year period, beginning June 19, 2019. The renewed FTAA reflects similar financial terms and conditions while providing additional benefits to the regional communities and provinces that host the operation. Michael Holmes, President and CEO of OceanaGold said, “we are pleased to confirm the renewal of the Didipio Mine’s FTAA and thank the Philippine Government for their endorsement and renewal. We have worked through the renewal process in partnership with the Government and regulatory agencies. We look forward to commencing restart activities and continuing to work in partnership with our regulators, communities, employees, and all stakeholders to contribute to the Philippines’ post-COVID-19 economic recovery.” The Company has maintained the mine and associated facilities in a state of operational stand-by. The Company’s first operational priority is the rehiring and training of its Philippine workforce, which will include a focus on safeguarding workers from the current risks associated with COVID-19. The Company expects to provide additional details on the restart and resumption of normal operations at Didipio, including the timeline and an update to Company’s 2021 guidance, in due course. The Company plans a staged restart of operations with milling to recommence as soon as possible utilising stockpiled ore of which the operation has approximately 19 million tonnes available. The Company aims to achieve full underground production capacity within twelve months. Once fully ramped-up, the Company expects Didipio to produce approximately 10,000 gold ounces and 1,000 tonnes of copper per month at first quartile All-in Sustaining Costs. Didipio is a major direct and indirect employer in the provinces of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya and a significant contributor of socio-economic benefits for the local and national economies. The Didipio Gold and Copper Mine operates to the highest environmental and social standards and has been recognised as one of the most responsible in the country. Renewal Terms The FTAA was renewed on substantially the same terms and conditions and includes the following modifications: The equivalent of an additional 1.5% of gross revenue to be allocated to community development Reclassification of Net Smelter Return to be an allowable deduction and shared 60% / 40% rather than wholly included in government share Listing of at least 10% of the common shares in OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (“OGPI”), the Company’s Philippine operating subsidiary and holder of the FTAA, on the Philippine Stock Exchange within the next three years OGPI shall offer for purchase by the Philippine Central Bank not less than 25% of its annual gold doré production at fair market price and mutually agreed upon terms Transfer of OGPI’s principal office to a host province within the next two years The additional 1.5% allocated to community development will take the form of increased contributions to communities in the region and provincial development projects. While the existing fund for Social Development and Management Program will continue to be provided for the host and neighbouring communities, 1.0% of the additional 1.5% will be allocated to community development for additional communities and 0.5% to the host Provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.
Philippine Resources - September 24, 2021
DOTr, Pasay City sign deal for monorail, flyover extension
Residents and those working in Pasay City will soon enjoy easier public transportation after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the city government signed a deal for the construction of a monorail and extension of the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (Edsa)-Tramo flyover. In a live broadcast on Facebook on Wednesday, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade and Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the proposed Integrated Pasay Monorail and Edsa-Tramo flyover extension project. Tugade said the project will be interoperable with the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), the Edsa Busway, and the Edsa Greenways. “[Ito ay] makapagbibigay ng mas mabilis at episyenteng biyahe sa mga pasahero. Magiging mas madali na rin ang access patungong central business district (CBD) ng Pasay (This will provide fast and efficient travel to passengers. Access to Pasay CBD will also be easier),” Tugade said. Aside from its benefits to commuters, he said the project will also create jobs. “Ang paulit-ulit kong sinasabi na karugtong ng mga proyekto para sa kaunlaran ay trabaho para sa Pilipino (What I have always been saying is that development projects go hand-in-hand with jobs for Filipinos),” Tugade said. He said the project is a partnership between the DOTr, Pasay City government, and SM Prime Holdings. “Makakaasa 'ho kayong magpapatuloy ang DOTr sa pagsusulong ng mga proyekto para sa ikauunlad ng pampublikong transportasyon sa bansa (You can be rest assured that the DOTr will continue to promote projects for the development of public transportation in the country),” Tugade said. The MOA signing was witnessed by Pasay City Vice Mayor Noel del Rosario, DOTr Undersecretary for Finance Giovanni Lopez, Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Reinier Paul Yebra, Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, SM Prime Holdings President Jeffrey Lim, and other representatives from the Pasay City government and the private sector. On Sept. 7, the Pasay City government and the SM Prime Holdings made a joint presentation on the project to the DOTr. By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - September 24, 2021
DOTr eyes GenSan airport as alternate int'l gateway
Photo credit: Department of Transportation The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is pushing for the inclusion of the newly rehabilitated and expanded airport here as among the alternate gateways for returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and international travelers. DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade proposed the move on Thursday as he personally led the formal unveiling and inauguration of the city airport’s new passenger terminal building and other completed facilities. He said the city’s international standard airport can accommodate airline passengers coming in from as far as the Middle East. Tugade said it can be realized once the proposed increase in the daily cap for returning OFWs, currently at 2,000 for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), is approved. Once the cap is expanded, he said NAIA might “choke” with the influx of airline passengers from various countries. “If we will increase the cap, we need to expand our gateways and not limit them to Clark, Cebu, and NAIA. We can include GenSan among the gateways for travelers from Doha who are going to Manila,” he said in a press conference. He said they will propose such strategy with the airlines serving the international routes, including the Philippine Airlines, and seek the approval of the city government. The other possible alternate gateways could be the Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Tugade said. The rehabilitated and expanded General Santos Airport passenger terminal building, which was completed early this month, is part of the PHP959-million upgrade implemented by the national government. The other completed components are the procurement and installation of navigational aids and the construction of the new Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) administration building at the airport. Under the project, Tugade said the passenger terminal area has tripled in size from 4,000 to 12,000 square meters. “This will allow the airport to accommodate more passengers and provide them comfortable and convenient travel,” he said in his speech. A DOTr report said the larger passenger terminal building can now accommodate around 2 million passengers annually, a significant jump from the previous 800,000 per year. Tugade said the improvement at the city airport will continue next year with the upgrading of its air control tower, which he considered as “too low.” He said they will build a “higher and modernized” tower in 2022 to make it “more world-class” and can easily adjust to the needs of the airport. The official said the upgrading of the airport, which started in 2018, is among the agency and the national government’s top priorities in Mindanao. He said the initiative is part of the government’s efforts to bring more progress and economic opportunities in Mindanao, which “suffered from long years of neglect in terms of development.” Tugade said they endeavored to implement these projects despite the challenges posed by the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to pursue their goal of giving a “comfortable and convenient life” to Filipinos. “After the pandemic, we want all these developments in place and ready to benefit the people,” he said. In a video message, President Rodrigo Duterte commended the DOTr, the local government, and concerned stakeholders for completing the projects at the city airport amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the city has “gone a long way” in terms of the development of its air connectivity and airport facilities. “The rehabilitation and expansion of the airport passenger terminal building, among others, will truly boost General Santos City’s role as an agro-industrial and eco-tourism hub,” the President said. City Mayor Ronnel Rivera lauded the national government for helping the city realize its dream of having an international-standard airport. Aside from the expanded passenger terminal building, the airport is now capable of accommodating bigger aircraft like Boeing 737 and 747, as well as Airbus A330, A340, and A350. “(What) we are seeing now is a result of multisectoral commitment and dedication in various stages of the airport development, which includes coordination of several initiatives, preparation of the airport master plan, operations, and marketing,” he said. The mayor said the local government will continue to engage with prospective investors and airlines for the opening of more flights to and from the airport and the development of adjacent areas. He cited the proposed establishment of an aerotropolis or growth area centered on the city airport and its surrounding areas. “We are opening a wide array of opportunities, not only on the improvement of our infrastructure facilities but also in terms of investments that will generate more economic opportunities for the city and the entire region (Soccsksargen),” he said. Aside from the inauguration of the airport projects, Tugade also led the unveiling of completed initiatives at the Makar port here. The DOTr said it includes the construction of the Port Operations Building and other vital facilities, which includes a parking area, covered court, port manager’s quarter or Day Care Center, and drainage system. “The improved port of Makar will now offer safer, comfortable, and a more convenient port experience to passengers, while ensuring a faster turnaround for vessels, cargo trucks, and other ancillary service providers,” it said. Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - September 22, 2021
Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway 83% Complete
Photo credit: Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway As of August 31, 2021, the construction progress of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) project was at 83.84 percent. The P30-billion toll bridge, which will be substantially completed by the end of 2021, will use a full electronic toll system when it opens to motorists in the first quarter of 2022 to enable faster traffic flow and seamless travel. The project recently marked a milestone with the completion of the installation of all 56 stay cables that hold the main bridge deck. On September 11, the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), through its contractor, installed the last and longest stay cable, which is 219 meters long. The gap on the main bridge, on the other hand, is now down to only two meters before span closure and preparations are underway for the lowering of the form travelers. These form travelers, which weigh 500 tons in each tower, were used to construct the main bridge’s pier table and deck. Also, all 434 NU (Nebraska University) girders for the entire project have already been installed. With this, the mobile launching gantry used to install the girders have been demobilized. At the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR) on ramp and off ramp sections of CCLEX, construction of its substructures is complete. Ongoing works are now on the installation of precast planks and the concreting of deck slab. Also finished is the 200-meter pedestrian footbridge beside the CSCR with all six prefabricated steel walkways already installed. The footbridge will start near the U-turn slot of the South Road Properties’ welcome tower and will connect to the on-ramp sidewalk of CCLEX. At the Cebu viaduct, the construction of deck slab is ongoing. The Cordova viaduct, on the other hand, is now structurally complete with its substructure already done. Installation of handrails are underway. At the causeway, embankment works continue to progress with the placing of 20 vent pipes, which equalize the flow of seawater along the Cordova Channel, is finished. Also structurally complete are the four low-level bridges along the causeway, which will provide fishermen continued access to their fishing grounds. Aside from these, works are ongoing for the toll plaza and the CCLEX Operations and Maintenance Center. CCLEX, highlighted by its iconic crosses on top of the twin pylons of the cable-stayed main bridge over the Mactan Channel, is Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation’s (MPTC) first toll road project outside Luzon. CCLEX, which will be the third link to Mactan Island from Cordova Municipality to mainland Cebu through Cebu City’s South Road Properties, has a design speed of 80 kilometers per hour (kph) and a navigational clearance or height of 51 meters to allow large vessels to pass underneath the bridge. Not only is CCLEX seen to reduce traffic and make traveling more convenient but also spur trade activities and open greater economic opportunities for Cebu and the rest of the Visayas region. CCLEX is a project of Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), in partnership with the local government units of Cebu City and Municipality of Cordova. CCLEC is a wholly owned subsidiary of MPTC, the toll road arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), a publicly listed infrastructure holding company and a member of the MVP Group of Companies. MPTC is the largest toll road concessionaire and operator in the Philippines, which expansion goals include establishing toll operations in the Visayas, other parts of the Philippines, and in neighboring countries notably Vietnam, and Indonesia. Article courtesy of Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway