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 resurces 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!