Mining company defying Duterte policies

November 01, 2018

SORRY if President Duterte is observing All Souls Day, but he should be reading this.

Researchers from the United States, Canada, and the Philippines have released a study on the impact of mining in Nueva Vizcaya, Luzon, the largest Philippine island, by Australian-Canadian company, OceanaGold.

They have visited the Didipio Gold and Copper Mine and the surrounding communities four times over the past five years, and have reviewed numerous reports and investigations on the mine.

The study, OceanaGold in the Philippines: Ten Violations that Should Prompt Its Removal by the Institute for Policy Studies and Mining WatchCanada, concludes that the company has repeatedly violated President Duterte’s calls for responsible mining.

The study found a number of instances where OceanaGold has not adhered to its commitments under its mining permit and various Philippine laws and regulations.

It also discovered ample documentation of the detrimental impacts of the OceanaGold mine on water, forests, land, indigenous peoples, human rights, biodiversity, and workers’ rights.

The report also revealed that Nueva Vizcaya’s agriculture -- one of Luzon’s most bountiful sources of fruits and vegetables -- is threatened by adverse environmental impacts of the mine.

It also said  elevated levels of copper, lead, manganese, cadmium, sulfates, iron, arsenic, and selenium are     found in rivers and streams around the mine, potentially decreasing agricultural yields and impacting fish in the surrounding waterways

Given these findings, the study recommends denying OceanaGold’s request for renewal after its license expires in June 2019, as well as requests by the company for new exploration permits

The study reinforces the findings of Duterte’s first Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources  as well as consistent calls by local community members around the mine and by the provincial government that the mine be suspended.

The Didipio mine covered in this study is one of over two dozens  recommended to be suspended or shut down.

IPS and MiningWatch Canada released a similar study on OceanaGold’s operations in El Salvador in 2017. Ecuador eventually became the first country on earth to ban metals mining.

The study’s authors include two U.S. researchers, Robin Broad and John Cavanagh, who co-authored the book: Plundering Paradise: The Struggle for the Environment in the Philippines.

Broad is a Guggenheim fellow and professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

Cavanagh directs the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.

Canadian researcher Catherine Coumans is Research coordinator and Asia Pacific Program coordinator of
MiningWatch Canada.  She has written reports and academic articles on mining since conducting her Ph.D. research on the island of Marinduque in the Philippines (1988-1990).

Rico La Vina is a researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies and is finishing his Master’s degree at Fordham University.

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