OceanaGold Corp. has laid off 496 workers in the first round of a retrenchment program in its Philippine operation following its failure to renew its Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) at the Didipio Mine in Nueva Vizcaya.
In a statement, Michael Holmes, OceanaGold president and chief executive officer, said the first batch of retrenchment took effect last Tuesday, mostly workers from local communities in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.
The local government of Nueva Vizcaya has been restraining activities of OceanaGold since June last year pending the renewal of the FTAA
The company expects another 400 people working with its contractors will be affected by the retrenchment.
“Today is a sad day for the company and for the many hundreds of workers and their families whose livelihoods have been impacted by the local government blockade of the public road pending the FTAA renewal, which has constrained our ability to continue operations over the past 15 months,” Holmes said.
He said the company will implement a second round of permanent lay-offs in mid-November. Notices to affected employees have been issued.
Holmes said OceanaGold will “rehire hundreds of workers and restart operations should the FTAA be renewed or the blockade lifted,” referring to the refusal by the local government of Nueva Vizcaya to grant the company access to the mine site since June last year.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has allowed the miner can continue operations in the country even if it is still in the process of renewing its FTAA. – J. Macapagal