MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines: OceanGold facing final ejection

Published by MAC on 2019-08-10
Source: Statements (2019-08-09)

International protests including Philippines, Canada, Australia and El Salvador

For earlier coverage, please see: OceanaGold suspends operations 

OceanaGold Philippines Shut Down – Villagers Blockade Site, Permit Renewal Withheld

MiningWatch Canada & Jubilee Australia Research Centre press release

9 August 2019

Sydney, Ottawa – The Australian-Canadian mining company OceanaGold has been forced to cease mining for over a month at its Didipio copper-gold mine in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. The company faces a restraining order from municipal and provincial elected officials, a blockade of the site by Didipio villagers, most of whom are indigenous peoples, a lapsed mining permit, and a renewal application that has not been approved by the President of the Philippines.OceanaGold’s 25-year permit lapsed on June 20, 2019, but the company did not cease mining until local community members started an ongoing people’s blockade of the mine on July 1.

Villagers in Didipio are experiencing solidarity from a broad range of Filipino organizations, as well as internationally from, among others, Australian and Canadian civil society organisations.

Protests organised by the Maritime Union of Australia and Canadian solidarity organizations including Mining Watch Canada will be held today, 9 August, in Melbourne, Ottawa and Vancouver.

Also today, MiningWatch Canada and Jubilee Australia released a briefing paper outlining how OceanaGold is ignoring both its lack of a regulatory and a social license to operate the controversial mine, which has had significant adverse impacts on water, forests, land, biodiversity, indigenous peoples’ rights, labour rights and human rights.

In 2006 OceanaGold acquired the Didipio project, located in an important biodiversity corridor, critical watershed, fruit growing and agroforestry hub in the Philippines. The provincial government and mining affected communities have long voiced their opposition to renewal of the mine’s permit in position papers and local petitions. Resistance is led by Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Governor, Carlos Padilla, who released an advisory on the day of the expiration of OceanaGold’s Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) stating that upon the expiration of the contract the agreement “shall be terminated and the parties shall be relieved of their respective obligations”; Governor Padilla followed this up with a restraining order on June 25.

OceanaGold initially defied the provincial government’s restraining order claiming the right to keep operating as the country’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) had endorsed the company’s renewal application.

However, on July 25 the Regional Trial Court denied OceanaGold’s petition for injunctive relief noting that the company’s right to mine had in fact ceased to exist as of June 20, 2019, as President Duterte had not approved its renewal application.

OceanaGold’s renewal process has been contested and opaque. The company now says it lodged its “notice of renewal” in March of 2018 and that a renewal application was submitted in October 2018. However, these steps were taken without consultation with local elected officials and impacted communities, who have long expressed concern about the mine’s serious environmental and human rights impacts.

The people’s blockade, started on July 1, is ongoing, the company has suspended truck movement and mining and is appealing the Regional Trial Court’s decision.

Allies around the world are showing solidarity with the mining affected communities in an international day of action on 9 August. In Australia, the Maritime Union of Australia is leading a protest outside of OceanaGold’s office in Melbourne, 357 Collins St at 12 noon. Protests are also being organised in Canada outside of the Prime Minister’s office in Ottawa and outside of OceanGold’s office in Vancouver.

“OceanaGold knows it does not have the support of most Provincial, Municipal and village elected officials or of community members in Didipio, which is likely why the company has been so secretive in its license renewal process” said Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, who has visited the local Didipio community three times in the last four years. “The company clearly does not have the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the Indigenous people of Didipio as it has not been transparent with them or consulted them and they are now blockading the operation”

“The evidence clearly suggests that OceanaGold has continued mining operations while the question of the FTAA is still being contested,” said Luke Fletcher of Jubilee Australia. “On 25 July, the Regional Trial Court denied the company’s petition for injunctive relief, further demonstrating that the company is operating there without the proper permissions.”

Media Contacts:

Dr Luke Fletcher, Jubilee Australia, luke[at]jubileeaustralia.org +61 (0) 435 901 086

Dr. Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, catherine[at]miningwatch.ca +1 613 569 3439


On World Indigenous People’s Day Global protests held against ‘ethnocide’ of Oceanagold mine in PH

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

9 August 2019

Indigenous peoples alongside national and international organizations held simultaneous rallies in Australia, El Salvador, Canada, and the Philippines calling for the non-renewal of the large-scale gold and copper mining concession of Australian-Canadian owned Oceanagold in Nueva Vizcaya.The global protest was held in commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

The campaign against OceanaGold denounced the 25 years of environmental destruction and exploitation threatening ethnocide against indigenous communities in the Philippines. Tuwali Ifugao and Bugkalot indigenous peoples reside in the mining-affected communities in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya and have faced decades of division and displacement

“The years of exploitation and the environmental destruction that Oceanagold’s mining caused has earned the ire of the community, environmental advocates, and even the local government officials. The ongoing barricade is a testament to the people’s objection to this Canadian company's attempt to extend their plunder of Didipio's mineral reserves,” said Douglas Booker, General Secretary of the International Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines Canada (ICHRP Canada).

Canadian support groups have assembled two actions in Canada, one in Ottawa outside the Prime Minister’s office, and one in Vancouver in front of the OceanaGold office where they will submit a petition letter asking OceanaGold to pull out their operations in the Philippines.

On June 20, 2019, the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Government declared the operation of OceanaGold illegal. On July 1, indigenous people put up a people’s barricade hindering the operation of the company. On July 25, the Regional Trial Court in Nueva Vizcaya junked the petition of Oceanagold to allow their operations and declare unlawful the provincial government’s stoppage order.

Because of these legal debacles and local protests, OceanaGold declared full suspension of its mining operation in the province. As of August 8, OceanaGold’s stock market value has dropped by 23% since the start of the year.

Human rights violations

“In our recently concluded national solidarity and fact-finding mission, we found numerous rights violations were experienced by the residents at the barricade such as red-tagging, surveillance, intrusions in their homes, as well as threats of dispersal and harm against the barricade. Oceanagold must be held accountable for its mounting human rights atrocities,” said Leon Dulce of National Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

This is not the first time Oceanagold has figured in human rights violations. Kalikasan PNE noted that from 2007 to 2018 various rights violations were recorded such as lack of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), forced demolitions, pollution of rivers, unjust conditions of workers, illegal arrests, and red-tagging.

The group also furthered that the entire Filipino people’s sovereign rights to their natural resources have been undermined by Oceanagold. Company data revealed that some 87 billion pesos worth of copper, gold, and silver were mined by Oceanagold from 2013 to 2018, while only 4.7 billion pesos or only 5.4% were provided in salaries, taxes, and development projects ito the provincial and national government of the Philippines.

A protest action and submission of petitions against Oceanagold to the Philippine consulate was also organized in Cabanas Department in El Salvador, where its communities also faced threats to their sovereign water and mineral resources from Oceanagold.

“For a long time organizations from the Philippines has supported the people of El Salvador in a gigantic battle that led to a defeat against OceanaGold mining corporation at the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal in 2016, and to the eventual prohibition of large-scale mining in El Salvador in 2017. We are giving back our solidarity to the people of Nueva Vizcaya to their success of mounting a people's barricade against OceanaGold. We are asking the Philippine government to listen to their people and deny OceanaGold a new lease to deplete mineral resources and pollute the waters of the Philippines,” said Pedro Cabezas of International Allies against Mining in El Salvador who organized a protest action in front of the Philippine Consulate in El Salvador.

“We reiterate our calls on the United Nation Human Rights Council (UN HRC) to investigate Oceanagold for its plethora of violations of environmental, civil-political, socio-economic, and other human rights. We demand President Duterte to fully reject Oceanagold’s FTAA renewal application to end the continuing mining injustices they face,” ended Dulce.#

The Global Day of Action against Oceanagold Mining Corporation was organized by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan) Katribu, Sandugo Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self Determination, International People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM), Yes to Life, No to Mining (YLNM) Southeast Asia, Defend Patrimony Alliance, and International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) Commission 19; Spirit of Eureka, Australian Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP), Migrante Australia, Philippines Australia Solidarity Action (PASA); International Allies against Mining, Central American Alliance against Mining in El Salvador; and Mining Watch Canada, Anakbayan Ottawa, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) Canada, the Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Mining Justice Network, Canada.

For reference:
Leon Dulce
0917 562 6824
leon@kalikasan.net
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

Douglas Booker
oug.nona1978@gmail.com
International Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines Canada (ICHRP Canada)

Pedro Cabezas
stopesmining@gmail.com
International Allies against Mining in El Salvador


Protests mark international tribal peoples' day

Activists say attacks on tribal people in Philippines are linked to opposition to 'destructive development projects'

ucanews.com - https://www.ucanews.com/news/protests-mark-international-tribal-peoples-day/85843

9 August 2019

Manila - Activists marked the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples with demonstrations in several cities around the world to raise awareness over alleged threats to tribal communities brought about by "destructive development projects."

In Manila, hundreds of tribal people, pro-environment and human rights activists, braved monsoon rains as they marched in the streets to denounce alleged attacks on tribal people who voice opposition to projects affecting their communities.

Kerlan Fanagel, spokesman of the tribal group Sandugo, said the government should "listen to the cries of tribal people" and stop programs "that aim to evict us from our ancestral lands."

According to Katribu, an alliance of Philippine tribal groups, at least 59 tribal people have been killed since 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte came to power.

Katribu spokeswoman, Kakay Tolentino, claimed those who resist "aggressive development projects" are being intimidated, harassed, and killed.

On Aug. 6, a human rights advocate who works in a tribal community in the northern Philippines was shot outside his house in Lagawe, in Ifugao province.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance said the attack on Brandon Lee, a 37-year-old paralegal volunteer for the Ifugao Peasant Movement, was "an attempt to silence" those who speak for the rights of tribal communities.

Call to end mining operations

Simultaneous protests were held in Australia, El Salvador, and Canada on Aug. 9 to call for the non-renewal of a large-scale gold and copper mining concession in the Philippines' Nueva Vizcaya province.

The demonstrations denounced what has been described as "25 years of environmental destruction and exploitation" that allegedly threatens ethnocide against tribal communities in the Philippines.

"The years of exploitation and the environmental destruction mining has caused has earned the ire of the community, environmental advocates, and even the local government officials," said Douglas Booker, general secretary of the International Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines Canada.

In June, local authorities in Nueva Vizcaya province declared the mining operations of Australian-Canadian owned OceanaGold illegal.

On July 1, tribal people put up a "people’s barricade" to hinder operations. On July 25, a local court threw out a company bid allow full operations to continue.

As a result, OceanaGold has declared the full suspension of its mining operations in the province.

As of Aug. 8, OceanaGold’s share values had dropped 23 percent since the start of the year.

Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, said they noted "numerous rights violations" experienced by those manning the barricade, such as "red-tagging," surveillance, and home invasions.

Company data revealed that some 87 billion pesos (about US$1.7 billion) worth of copper, gold, and silver were mined by OceanaGold from 2013 to 2018, while only 4.7 billion pesos (about US$90 million) or only 5.4 percent were provided in salaries, taxes, and development projects.

Environmental activists and tribal groups have called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate OceanaGold for alleged "violations of environmental, civil-political, socio-economic, and other human rights" in the Philippines.


Canadians Demonstrate in Ottawa and Vancouver Today in Solidarity with Indigenous Filipinos Peacefully Blockading Canadian Mine OceanaGold

Joint press release

OceanaGold Philippines Shut Down – No legal License and No Social License

9 August 2019

Ottawa-Vancouver – Today Canadians will take to the streets in Ottawa and in Vancouver in a show of solidarity with indigenous Ifugao members of the mountain village of Didipio in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines, who have been peacefully blockading a Canadian owned mine for over a month. The blockade comes after years of well-documented environmental and human rights abuses at OceanaGold’s copper-gold mine,[1] and a steady stream of petitions and resolutions by villagers and elected leaders of Didipio to stop the mine’s operations.

The day after OceanaGold’s 25-year license lapsed, on June 20, 2019, the elected village leadership of Didipio signed Resolution 59 directing OceanaGold “to stop its operations” as its permit had expired. Governor Carlos Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya issued a restraining order on June 25, to stop OceanaGold from mining, which was supported by the Mayor of the municipality where the mine is located and by the elected leadership of Didipio.

As OceanaGold initially refused to stop mining, even after the governor had issued his restraining order, Didipio villagers blockaded the mine’s entry road on July 1. Their action suspended truck movement and stopped mining, although the company continues to process ore at the site. OceanaGold sought injunctive relief, but on July 25 the Regional Trial Court denied OceanaGold’s petition noting that the company’s license had in fact ceased to exist as of June 20, 2019, and that President Duterte had not approved the company’s application for a renewal of the permit.

OceanaGold’s efforts to renew its permit started in 2018 and were shrouded in secrecy. At no time did the company start an open and transparent consultation with the elected leadership of Didipio, or with the indigenous people of Didipio, most of whom are Ifugao, to seek their Free Prior and Informed Consent. The blockade is a clear indication that OceanaGold not only does not have a legal permit to mine, but also does not have social acceptability, or a social license, to mine.

As Canadians, we stand in solidarity with the people of Didipio who have suffered enough in the shadow of OceanaGold’s mine. We call on OceanaGold to stop seeking a permit to mine and to return the land to the people of Didipio in an orderly transition. We also call on the Canadian Government to live up to its duty to protect human rights by not prioritizing OceanaGold’s commercial interests over those of the people of Didipio.

For more information see Background Brief - https://miningwatch.ca/sites/default/files/didipio_brief_080819.pdf

Demonstration Locations:

Ottawa - Prime Minister’s Office, corner of Wellington and Elgin Street.

Vancouver – OceanaGold Corporate Office, 777 Hornby St.

Contact:

Douglas Booker - International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada - ichrpcanada@gmail.com

Kristine Castanos - International League of People’s Struggles – Canada - ilps.canada@gmail.com

Nicole Sudiacal - Anakbayan Ottawa - nicole.sudiacal@gmail.com

Elizabeth Dollaga – Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights - edollaga@yahoo.com

Catherine Coumans – MiningWatch Canada – catherine@miningwatch.ca

 

[1] OceanaGold Corporation is the Canadian-based parent company of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. It is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange with headquarters in Melbourne and a corporate office in British Columbia.

OceanaGold operates the Didipio project through wholly-owned subsidiaries in Singapore, the

Netherlands and the Philippines. OceanaGold (Philippines), Inc. owns 92% of the Didipio Mine.

 

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