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OceanaGold gives up on Vizcaya mining project

December 3, 2008 8:56pm
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – New Zealand’s OceanaGold Corporation said Wednesday it has placed its troubled Didipio gold-copper project in the northern Philippines on "care and maintenance."

Didipio Gold-Copper mining project in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. The mine is owned by New Zealand-based OceanaGold Corporation (OGC).

"(The decision came) following completion of the strategic review that began in July," according to a statement made by Darren Klinck, vice president for corporate and investor relations.

The news release was e-mailed to GMANews.TV by Christina Hill of Oxfam Australia, the company's most outspoken critic back home.

"During this period of time, the Company will continue to work closely with our key stakeholders including the local community, local government units in Nueva Viscaya and Quirino provinces as well as the national government of the Philippines through the offices of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and the MGB (Mineral Geosciences Bureau)," Klinck said.

OceanaGold’s chief executive officer Stephen Orr said: "The deterioration of global economic conditions has required that we take prudent measures in order to secure and preserve our assets in the Philippines. We recognize the inherent value that the Didipio project and our exploration portfolio in the Philippines represent for shareholders but the uncertainty around current financial markets dictates that we affect this strategy."

CEO Steve Orr went on to say, "The Company will maintain focus on its New Zealand gold operations where we expect to again increase production in the fourth quarter of 2008. In 2009, we plan to produce between 280,000 and 300,000 ounces of gold at cash costs of less than US$475 per ounce. In these uncertain times, we are focused on maximizing revenue and reducing expenditures to further strengthen the Company's financial position for the near-term."

Reacting to a text message to solicit his reaction, Peter Duyapat, leader of the local organization that challenged the legitimacy of OceanaGold's continued stay in Didipio in the town of Kasibu, said he was surprised by the news.

"What will happen to their equipment?" Duyapat asked.

OceanaGold and Duyapat's group were locked in bitter court battles. An injunction case crippled the company’s efforts to demolish obstacles to pave way for its push toward full mine development and construction phase since December 2007. - Abe Almirol, GMANews.TV
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