OceanaGold Philippines Inc., a unit of Australia-based OceanaGold Corp., decried Wednesday the results of the the mining audit done by the Environment Department, saying the move ruined the image of the Philippines as an investment destination.
“The pronouncements are sweeping, no question about that. I could tell there is probably none (mining companies) going here. When you make that kind of announcements, it affects the whole industry,” company president Jose Leviste Jr. said at the sidelines of 42nd Philippine Business Conference at the Marriot Hotel in Pasay City.
“As the head of the gold and copper section of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I’m concerned not only for OceanaGold but for the entire industry,” he said.
Leviste made the remarks after the Environment Department recommended the cancelation of 23 mining permits, including that of OceanGold’s.
OceanaGold, he said, was still operating in the absence of a formal government order stopping the firm’s copper-gold operations in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya province.
“We don’t have a suspension order. We’re operating. To serve a suspension order, it has to have due process and due process means they should have a good reason for suspension,” Leviste said.
The company welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for responsible mining practices and the adoption of the Canadian and Australian standards in mining. The company said it was an advocate and practitioner of responsible mining.
Leviste declined to disclose the company’s prospects for the year due to reports that the Environment Department would cancel the extension of the exploration permit granted by the previous administration.
OceanaGold’s mother company, which is listed in Toronto and Sydney bourse, suffered a 22.3-point drop in stock price in a single day, Leviste said.
He added mining companies poised to enter the Philippines were “having second thoughts and quite nervous” of the dynamics of Philippine business.
Leviste said the Philippines still has the opportunity to be a mining country it projected if the Environment Department will stick to the policy of the Duterte government.
“We can still be the Chile of Southeast Asia, depending on the actuations of the department,” he said.