OCEANAGOLD has received a five year extension to the exploration period of its Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) at the Didipio Gold Project. This paves the way to conduct exploration in the broader region surrounding the mine, which is in the Cagayan Valley in Luzon.

OceanaGold holds significant exploration tenements in the Philippines and its FTAA covers about 158sqkm in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. Geochemical sampling has identified several gold and copper soil anomalies in close proximity to the Didipio operation.

OceanaGold president and CEO Mick Wilkes said, “This is a positive outcome for all stakeholders that will allow the company to expand its exploration program over the broader region around Didipio. We are now reviewing and prioritizing targets.

“As a recent recipient of the highly prestigious ‘Most Responsible’ mining operation award from President Aquino III, we have demonstrated to our stakeholders that we operate to the most stringent social, environmental and safety standards. As ever, we will continue working with all levels of government and all stakeholders delivering meaningful benefits to our host communities and to every country in which we operate.”

OceanaGold has also announced a material increase in mineral resources, which are mainly attributable to the acquisitions completed last year that brought the Haile and Waihi gold mines in New Zealand into the company’s portfolio of high quality assets. Total proven and probable reserves are 5.46 million gold ounces, 4.51 million silver ounces and 180,000 tonnes of copper.

“The company already has a significant mineral endowment and, through an extensive exploration program, we are seeking to significantly extend that endowment from our highly prospective exploration tenements in New Zealand, the Philippines and the United States,” Mick Wilkes said.

During 2015 the Didipio operation exceeded production guidance with 127,086 ounces produced, including 33,094 ounces in the December quarter. The increase was due mainly to record throughput of 3.58 million tonnes of ore processed compared to 3.11 million tonnes processed in 2014 and 2.58 million tonnes in 2013. Copper production for the year was 23,109 tonnes and within the guidance range.

Didipio is now operating on grid power after the company completed commissioning of the power grid connection. OceanaGold expects lower processing costs than in previous years.

Development of the underground mine continued to progress with a plan to begin exploration drifts in the second half of 2016. This will allow for drilling of the deposit at depth.

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