Didipio plant about to start refining

Oceana Gold's gold and copper mining project in the northern Philippines - costing $US247 million ($NZ300.8 million) when completed - is about to move from development to production in coming weeks as ore is introduced into the refining process.

Chief executive Mick Wilkes said the commissioning of the Didipio plant was proceeding to plan and within time frame, with rock introduced to the milling system and other plant units being commissioned.

"We expect to be producing copper-gold concentrate in the coming weeks. It's a great result," Mr Wilkes said in a market update yesterday.

For its third-quarter results, Oceana's crucial cash costs to produce each ounce of gold in New Zealand remained beyond $US1000 at $US1081, but once in full Philippine production, it has been estimated Didipio's gold and copper equivalents will dilute overall production cash costs to possibly $US600/oz.

Full 2012 calendar year production was recently downgraded slightly to the lower end of 225,000-230,000oz from New Zealand operations in Macraes in East Otago and Reefton on the West Coast, but Oceana expects higher grades from its open pits would contribute to a "strong finish" for the full-year.

-simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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