OceanaGold expects copper production at Didipio, Philippines, to commence in 2013

OceanaGold will start producing copper in concentrate from its long-delayed Didipio project in the Philippines in 2013 at 18,000 t/y,  Mick Wilkes, CEO, told Reuters. Gold production from the mine, under construction in Luzon island, will ramp up to 100,000 oz/y by the end of 2014.

Wilkes said compensation agreements were reached with local landowners, a trust fund established and sponsorship of educational scholarships.

"Didipio shows strong economics with cash costs for the first 6 years averaging negative $79/oz, net of by-product copper credits using a $3/lb copper price," he said.

Prospectors first discovered gold and copper at the mine site in the 1970s, with plans to develop a mine passing through several groups before being acquired by OceanaGold in 2006 following a merger with Climax Mining.

The company said enough exploration ground existed around the Didipio site to potentially lift annual output to 200,000 oz of gold and 30,000 t of copper.