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Here’s why gold miner OceanaGold Corporation plunged 19% this week

On Monday the shares of Australian gold miner OceanaGold Corporation (ASX: OGC) finished the day at $4.75. Just two days later they have dropped almost 19% to $3.87 after it emerged that the Philippine government may be about to force the closure of its Didipio operation.

Yesterday afternoon the nation’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources named the Didipio mine as one of 23 that may have their operations suspended due to alleged social issues.

According to The Australian, OceanaGold has been the subject of ongoing complaints from locals for several months now, with its planned exploration program seen as a threat to farmlands.

Management has stated that it has yet to receive any formal order from the department and is seeking clarification and further details. As things stand it is business as usual and both mining and processing activities are continuing at the mine.

If the mine were to be closed it would be disastrous for the company. Year to date its Didipio operation has accounted for 40% of the company’s total gold production and 35% of its total copper production.

President and CEO Mick Wilkes had this to say on the matter:

“The Didipio Mine has a strong social license to operate. Our achievements since recommencement of construction in 2011 would not have been achieved without our steadfast commitment to the community and most importantly the strong endorsement from the residents of Didipio and the nine other communities in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.”

I would be quite surprised if the mine shut considering the estimated 1,764 Filipino nationals that it employs and the economic benefit it has provided of around US$70 million in taxes and royalties over the past three-and-a-half years.

But ultimately it is impossible to know what the Duterte government will do next. So with its shares still up by 48% year to date, investors might want to consider taking profits and looking elsewhere in the sector at Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) or St Barbara Ltd (ASX: SBM) if they still want exposure to gold.

Alternatively investors could look elsewhere on the market and at these rapidly growing shares instead. Each has both strong earnings and dividend growth, as well as the potential to bolt higher if you ask me.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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