Climate and Environment

77 groups urge Philippines to stop OceanaGold's mining ops in Nueva Vizcaya

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
77 groups urge Philippines to stop OceanaGold's mining ops in Nueva Vizcaya
Members of a student environmental group and residents picket in front of the office of Australia-based mining company OceanaGold in the financial district of Manila on March 4, 2015.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Human rights and environmental groups from six countries called on the government to shut down the mine of Australian-Canadian firm OceanaGold in Nueva Vizcaya, which scarred the lands of indigenous Tuwali people and polluted water systems in the area.

Seventy-seven organizations from the Philippines, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and El Salvador also called on the government to ensure that the communities affected by the gold miner’s operations will get reparations.

“We make this urgent appeal in the name of present and future generations and the well-being of our earth and its precious waters,” the groups said in a statement on Thursday.

The operations of OceanaGold in Barangay Didipio in Kasibu have faced resistance from locals who say the extraction of gold and copper has affected their agricultural lands and polluted their water systems.

According to the groups, toxic-filled waste water from the mine of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI) is contained in tailings ponds that risk overflow from typhoons.

In 2021, the government of then-President Rodrigo Duterte approved the new permit of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. despite strong opposition from local stakeholders and environmental groups.

Eduardo Ananayo of Didipio Earth Savers Multi-purpose Association Inc. (DESAMA) said the renewal of OGPI’s permit “can only be considered illegal, especially because it poses a danger to our farmlands, our livelihoods, and our very survival.”

Threats vs IPs

The lives of women and Tuwali leaders who oppose the mine are also threatened, with members being tagged as fighters or supporters of the communist armed struggle, the groups also said.

In 2020, the barricade set up by indigenous Tuwali people was violently dispersed by the police.

“Indigenous women, like myself, who were at the forefront of the barricades suffered physical injuries, and psychological and emotional trauma,” said Myrna Duyan of Bileg Dagiti Babbae.

Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Carlos Padilla, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Center for Environmental Concerns, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Purple Action for Indigenous Women (LILAK), and Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center were among the signatories from the Philippines.

In the same statement, the human rights and environmental organizations called for a halt to OceanaGold’s expansion in New Zealand and the United States.

They also urged the government of El Salvador to uphold the country’s 2017 ban on mining, and the governments of Canada and Australia to enact mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation.


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