KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya –OceanaGold Philippines Inc. announced Wednesday several hundreds of miners at the Didipio mine here will be laid off.
“We will be letting of go more than 80 percent or around 620 of [our] workers as mining operations were stopped and the Didipio mine continues to suffer financial losses due to continuing blockades by [the] local government,” Oceanagold said in a press statement.
Oceanagold said it complied with labor laws that requite companies to notify employees several months ahead of their termination.
“It is unfortunate that the authority granted to the company by the national government to continue operating pending [the] grant of renewal of the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement was not being recognized by local government units,” OGPI said.
The mining company set the initial permanent separation of affected workers effective Oct. 13 this year as it could no longer hold the entire workforce after over a year of non-operations.
Oceanagold was constrained to halt the operations of the Didipio mine in July 2019 when a blockade was set up and a stoppage order from the local government effectively prevented the entry of supplies and the transport of mineral products to the market.
Underground mining activities ceased with the depletion of mining consumables as a result of the blockade. Milling activities were stopped in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The company said the national government has regulatory authority over the Didipio mine.
The enforced lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic worsened the situation, forcing the company to temporarily lay off the first batch of workers on April 15.
OGPI general manager David Way said that while there had been no mining operation and no commercial activities for around 10 months, the company held on to the entire workforce for as long as it could.
He said the continuing restraints to the operation and the economic impacts of the pandemic made it difficult for the company to keep all its employees.
“It is a painful decision. In as much as the company would like to retain everyone, our resources are no longer enough,” he said.
When in full operations, Didipio mine directly employs 1,500 workers, 770 of whom are directly employed by OceanaGold, the rest by its contractors. Most of them are residents of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and other neighboring provinces in north and central Luzon.
The remaining essential workers will continue to perform the needed tasks to maintain, preserve, safekeep and protect the Didipio Mine and its assets, while ensuring compliance with the regulatory requirements while the restraints on operations are in place.
“As a responsible resource developer, we know that our operation will be able to churn economic activity in the region and will enable us to help in the nation’s economic recovery. We will continue to work with the national government for our FTAA renewal,” Way said.