Gold miner OceanaGold has undertaken the first round of permanent redundancies at its Didipio operation in the Philippines, as operations at the project remain closed.

The company said it laid off 496 permanent employees from OceanaGold Philippines (OGPI), who are predominantly from the communities of the Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces.

An additional 400 people working with contractors will also be affected as a result of the layoffs.

The miner also warned that the second round of permanent lay-offs would become effective in mid-November.

According to OceanaGold, affected employees have received notices from the company.

OceanaGold president and CEO Michael Holmes said: “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.

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“The Company has actively participated in community-led dialogue supported by the majority of village and municipal governments along with the majority of local residents in Didipio.

“We will work as quickly and safely as we can to rehire hundreds of workers and restart operations should the FTAA be renewed or the blockade lifted. The Didipio operation looks forward to contributing to the Philippines post-COVID economic recovery.  We’re ready and waiting for that opportunity.”

In April, OceanaGold resumed operations in New Zealand after the government lowered the country’s Covid-19 alert level from four to three.

Back in February 2019, OceanaGold obtained resource permits to commence operations at its Martha underground project in Waihi, New Zealand.