OceanaGold laying off workers as FTAA hangs

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Australian-Canadian mining firm OceanaGold will start laying off workers by end of the month as the renewal of its financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) remains uncertain.

In a briefing yesterday, OceanaGold corporate communications manager Melissa Bowerman said the existing 1,500 employees would decline should the Didipio Mine fail to renew its FTAA, which had expired in June 2019.

“If we cannot get the FTAA renewed by end of February, we wont have the same number of employees,” Bowerman said.

Of the total number of employees, 700 are contractors.

An FTAA is entered into between a contractor and the government for the large-scale exploration, development and utilization of gold, copper, nickel, chromite, lead, zinc and other minerals. It is granted to foreign-owned corporations seeking to operate in the Philippines.

Due to the non-renewal of its FTAA, OceanaGold had failed to meet its production targets last year of 125,00 ounces of gold and 15,000 metric tons of copper.

Didipio only produced 83,913 ounces of gold and 10,255 MT of copper before processing was suspended in October.

“We’re not selling any product. And for the last eight months, we have not had any revenue,” Bowerman said.

The President has the final decision on the grant and renewal of an FTAA upon the endorsement of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Department of Natural Resources.

The Office of the President earlier found a deficiency -- the first 25 years of OceanaGold were not covered by the Indigenous Peoples’ Right Act law and its area was outside the ancestral domain of the Bugkalot tribe.

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