800 mine workers face layoff over uncertain license renewal
Australian OceanaGold mining company is set to lay off more than 800 employees by the end of the month after eight months of waiting for the renewal of its financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA).
Melissa Bowerman, Brisbane-based OceanaGold corporate communications manager, said most of the 1,500 employees they maintain would be out of job if the Didipio Mine in this upland town fails to get its FTAA renewed by the end of this month.
OceanaGold’s Didipio Gold and Copper Project’s 25-year FTAA, which was the company’s mining license with the Philippine government, has not been renewed since its expiration on June 20, 2019.
“The company will not have the same number of employees by March if we cannot get the FTAA renewed,” Bowerman said, adding some 700 contractors will also be affected.
An FTAA is a license issued to a multinational company that shares technology and resources to explore and extract minerals in the Philippines. It is granted to foreign-owned corporations seeking to operate in the country.
Since the company voluntarily suspended its operation, Bowerman said the Didipio Mine had stopped production.
In a report released by OceanaGold, the company said for 2019 the Didipio Mine only produced 83,913 ounces of gold and 10,255 tons of copper from January to October 2919 when processing was suspended.
Mick Wilkes, OceanaGold corporation president and chief executive officer, however, said the company continues to work constructively with regulatory stakeholders related to the renewal of Didipio’s FTAA.
The firm’s license is currently under review with the Office of the President (OP) with no specific timeline on when a decision will be made.
“Last year was challenging for us particularly in the [Didipio Mine]. We continue to have positive engagement with the national government and we continue to see very strong support from our local communities,” Wilkes said.