Philippines: Opposition to OceanaGold's lease renewalPublished by MAC on 2019-06-24
Source: Statements, Manila Standard, Philippine Star (2019-06-23)
OceanaGold's Didipio mine has caused much controversy over the years (see: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/list.php?r=618). It is now seeking an extension on its 25 year license (known as a financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA).
Unsurprisingly, given that controversy, a number of groups representing local communities, including NGOs and the provincial government, have opposed the renewal, and instead called for a cancellation of the lease. The final decision rests with the country's president, who has been critical of large-scale openpit mines in the past.
An online petition calling on people to say "No Go for Oceanagold! Cancel OceanaGold's FTAA Contract!" is available at: https://bit.ly/2MMAPTe
Miner’s new permit up to Duterte—MGB
Ben Moses Ebreo and Brenda Jocson
23 June 2019
Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya—The regional executive of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureaus said the approval of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. application for its Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement renewal is now in the hands of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Mario Ancheta, MGB regional director, said OGPI has already filed its FTAA renewal even before its first mining permit has expired in June 20 and is now waiting the President’s decision.
“It now up to President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the application for the FTAA renewal of OGPI after this was already endorsed by our Department through Secretary Roy Cimatu,” Ancheta said during a recent mining forum in Santiago City.
However, Governor Carlos Padilla announced that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu had decided to halt OceanaGold’s gold mine operation temporarily while waiting for Duterte to decide over permit of the large-scale mining company whose operation is in Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, this province.
After the 2nd Quarterly Meeting of the joint Provincial Peace and Order Council and Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council, Padilla told Manila Standard that the DENR boss had ordered a cease and desist on OceanaGold’s operation after its FTAA expired on June 20, 2019.
“Let’s wait for the President’s decision. But until such time that he (the President) had not renewed Oceana’s FTAA, then all their operations are illegal,” Padilla quoted Cimatu as saying, after reading the unanimously signed Provincial Board resolution protesting the mining firm’s application for renewal.
Padilla personally handed the provincial board resolution to Cimatu at the start of the meeting.
OGPI’s application for a new FTAA was met by a protest rally by anti-mining advocates in Nueva Vizcaya and supporters from northern Luzon over the weekend.
The protest rally was organized by the Alyansa ng mga Nagkakaisang Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANVIK), attended mostly from barangay Didipio where OGPI operates the gold and copper project.
Ancheta also said OGPI has a pending request to continue their operations while waiting for their new FTAA from the Office of the President.
“As of now, we are still waiting for the decision whether to allow them to continue their operation in the mine site while their FTAA renewal is still pending,” he added.
Ancheta said OGPI is expected to comply with their suspension of operations as mandated by the expiration of their FTAA, while their request to continue is still pending action before the office of Cimatu.
Padilla stressed that right after its FTAA expiration, OceanaGold must stop shipping gold concentrate out of the country because doing so must mean gold smuggling.
“I am ordering the PNP [Philippine National Police] to conduct 24/7 checkpoint operations provincewide in coordination with 84th and 86th IB [Infantry Battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines] to please have patrol operations pursuant to Secretary Cimatu’s pronouncement,” the governor said.
Meanwhile, the provincial council meeting agreed there is a need to strictly monitor the mining firm’s adherence to Cimatu’s decision because of the strong anti-OceanaGold “Semitism” in the host barangay that may lead to hostilities if the company would not abide by the DENR chief’s pronouncement.
The council formed a joint tasked force led by the Philippine Army to monitor and maintain peace and order in Barangay Didipio and other impact zone communities in Kasibu and Nagtipunan town in Quirino province.
LGUs push for non-renewal of OceanaGold’s Didipio FTAA
Louise Maureen Simeon
19 June 2019
MANILA, Philippines — The province of Nueva Vizcaya is appealing to President Duterte not to renew OceanaGold Philippines’ financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA), which expires today (Wednesday).
The renewal of the FTAA will allow OceanaGold to continue operating the Didipio gold and copper mine for another 25 years.
OceanaGold has supposedly been causing more than P20 billion in damages to Nueva Vizcaya’s rice fields, watersheds, mountains and communities.
“That is just an estimate, it could be much more as the damage inflicted on the rice fields is unquantifiable. We are already having a hard time asking them to pay taxes, how much more this?” Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla told The STAR yesterday.
An FTAA is entered into between a contractor and the government for the large-scale exploration, development and utilization of gold, copper, nickel, chromite, lead, zinc and other minerals. It is granted to foreign-owned corporations seeking to operate in the Philippines.
The President has the final decision on the grant and renewal of an FTAA upon the endorsement of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
However, the DENR and MGB are pushing for the renewal of OceanaGold’s FTAA, The STAR learned.
MGB assistant director Danilo Uykieng and Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones confirmed they endorsed OceanaGold’s renewal application to the Office of the President.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Analiza Teh, on the other hand, said the FTAA has yet to be approved and signed by President Duterte.
Padilla argued that the 300 workers in the mine site were nothing compared to the thousands of farmers being affected.
“Which one will we sacrifice? Plus, we will be providing livelihood to these workers and they are better off once OceanaGold is gone. We will develop agriculture and tourism,” he said.
“I refused to have a dialogue with them because what’s the use? Any effort or initiative for a dialogue is for them to protect their interest,” Padilla said.
Meanwhile, environmental alliance Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is also calling on Duterte to immediately rule in favor of mining-affected communities and stop the destructive open-pit mining operations of the firm.
“The mine audit conducted by DENR in 2016 has allegedly revealed that OceanaGold not only violated several environmental laws, but also failed to comply with its contractual obligations to deliver social development to residents affected by its mining operations,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said.
Nueva Vizcaya is host to two of the largest mining projects in the country, OceanaGold’s Didipio mine and FCF Mineral’s Rurnruno Gold-Molybdenum project.
The local government and communities in the province have long been opposed to the mining industry due to the negative impacts on the people and the environment. They are pushing for more developments related to ecotourism and the agriculture sector.
Vizcayanos talk over mining in forum, socmed
19 June 2019
Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya—As the country celebrates the environment month, advocates of “responsible mining” battle their anti-mining adversary in various social media platforms.
An online petition currently hosted at www.change.org calls for Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to renew the permit of OceanaGold’s Didipio Mine in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. Another petition at www.bataris.org seeks the non-renewal of the permit of Didipio mine.
In a forum hosted by the group Alyansa Tigil Mine in Quezon City on Tuesday, Gov. Carlos M. Padilla declared his stand against the extension of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement now in the hands of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. which will end on June 20.
An FTAA is a permit issued to a multinational company to explore and extract minerals in the Philippines, provided that the company will share technology and financial resources.
OceanaGold’s FTAA No. 1 was issued 25 years ago, and now covers a total of 12,000 hectares, which includes the currently operating mine in a 725-hectare area.
“I will exercise the full powers of my office to strictly implement the Environment Code of Nueva Vizcaya. There will be no sacred cows where the rights and welfare of the people are concerned,” Padilla declared.
Meanwhile, in Barangay Didipio, people whose livelihood depend on the operation of the mine voiced out their opinion that they gained favorably from the mines.
In his Facebook post, former Barangay Councilor Jolan Pugong used photographs that showed how Didipio progressed over the years since the mine started operation.
New school buildings, cemented roads, a hospital, and a community water system that is about to be finished was posted by Pugong.
“With all these improvements, how can [they] say that we are suffering today,” Pugong asked.
The petition calling for the extension of OceanaGold’s FTAA argued that Didipio mine brought development, and that “responsible mining” principles were followed.
The opposing petition argued that mining has destroyed the environment and that the huge open pit that will be left after mines will close is a “wound that never heals.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Nueva Vizcaya passed a resolution last Monday rejecting the renewal of OceanaGold’s FTAA.
We say no more to OceanaGold!
The Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines’ statement of solidarity to local communities’ call to end the mining operations of OceanaGold in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
The 20th of June 2019 marks the expiration of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) between the Philippine government and the OceanaGold Mining Company operating in the province of Nueva Vizcaya. It is the first company to be awarded an FTAA under the Mining Act of 1995, which allows 100% foreign ownership of operations. The Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC) joins the local communities, environmental advocates and Filipinos in the call for non-renewal of OceanaGold’s FTAA because of its negative impacts to the environment and local communities’ well-being, most of which are indigenous and rural people.
Reports from the local government of Nueva Vizcaya documented in 2017 indicates expansion of operations to areas beyond the agreement under the FTAA issued to the company. This is alongside documentations by the communities and local organizations such as Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa Inc. (SAPAKKMI) and Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK) on the declining groundwater supply impacting agricultural production in the area. A study of the Institute for Policy Studies and MineWatch Canada in 2018 also stated that there was a loss of over 100 native hardwood trees due to the mining operations.
In 2017, a field scientific investigation led by AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment and the Center for Environmental Concerns, have presented evidence of heavy metal contamination in the area that is dangerous to aquatic organisms and human health. With this report and that of the LGU and the communities’ documentations, the Provincial Council of Nueva Vizcaya has released a resolution calling for the non-extention of the company’s FTAA and supported by the Barangay Council of Didipio. The governor of the province, Hon. Carlos Padilla also expressed his support for the non-renewal of the FTAA stating that the income of the province from the mining operations is outweighed by its damages.
A complaint submitted by the Kalikasan People’s Network to the Environment to the UN Special Procedures in 2018 have also led nine UN Special Rapporteurs to write to the Philippine government and ask for response on the matters being raised in the Didipio mine. The Philippine government is yet to respond on the issue as we speak.
OceanaGold is only one of the five approved FTAA agreements under the Mining Act of 1995. Foreign-owned corporations like OceanaGold continue to profit from the country’s natural resources, giving only a meager of the income to the host communities while leaving a trail of environmental destruction. They have earned billions while taking away the very resources that we need for domestic and national development.
The CEC stands with the communities and the LGU of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines on the call to not allow OceanaGold to operate again in the area and/or in any other parts of the country. The company should also be held accountable for the damages that it has caused to the environment and give proper and just compensation to the affected communities. We reiterate our demand to junk the Mining Act of 1995 and legislate a new mining policy that is people-centered and domestic needs-based.
No more to OceanaGold!
Stop Corporate Plunder of our Natural Resources!
Junk the Mining Act of 1995!
Environmental group urges gov't not to renew OceanaGold's contract
Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Leon Dulce says the government's decision on Oceanagold for contract renewal will serve as an 'acid test' of its stance on mining
14 June 2019
MANILA, Philippines – An environmental group has joined calls for the government not to renew the license of Australia-based mining firm Oceanagold Philippines, Incorporated, which expires on June 20.
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment national coordinator Leon Dulce told Rappler on Thursday, June 13, that the Duterte administration's decision on the renewal of Oceanagold's Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) will serve as an "acid test" of its stance on mining.
An FTAA, signed by the Philippine government and the mining firm, grants rights to explore, extract and utilize minerals for development and commerce for a 25-year period.
Dulce, citing the February 13 communication of United Nations special rapporteurs, said that Oceanagold's human rights and environmental violations should also be considered in the government's decision.
"Oceana has done violations that was not addressed over the past administrations and including this current one," he said.
He also said that government action on the contract would be an "indicator" of the DENR's "competence."
"If the [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] renews the contract, this isn't just an indicator of what the Duterte administration's stance is on mining. It is also going to be a question on the capability or the competence of DENR to effectively regulate mining in the Philippines and to sufficiently consult the communities affected," Dulce said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Dulce noted that OceanaGold is the first mining firm that is up for a FTAA renewal under the Duterte administration.
"If the FTAA is canceled, that sets a precedent na ang kilos ng mamamayan ay napapakinggan pa sa administration (that the government listens to its people)," Dulce said.
"Pero kung na-uphold ang renewal, eh 'di dadagdag sa mounting evidence na the administration cannot uphold its word to hold large-scale mining companies accountable (But if the renewal is upheld, then this adds to the mounting evidence that the administration cannot uphold its word to hold large-scale mining companies accountable)," Leon added.
To pursue a large-scale mining project in the country, a foreign-owned company needs to have an FTAA – an agreement with the Philippine government. The FTAA lasts for 25 years and needs at least $50 million as a capital investments.
The agreement also needs to have the approval of the DENR and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
Oceanagold was among the mining firms whose operations were ordered suspended following an environmental audit ordered by then-Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. It later resumed operations after it successfully appealed the suspension order before the Office of the President. – Rappler.com