Environmental advocates presented a petition for the immediate suspension of the Australian Oceana Gold Didipio Mine in Nueva Vizcaya to the officials of Mines and Geosciences Bureau in a dialogue on Wednesday at the MGB national office.
Members of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) presented their grievances to Engr. Leo Jasareno, director of MGB.
The other petitioners include the AGHAM-Advocates of Science & Technology for the People, Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK), Samahang pang Karapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa (SAPAKKMMI), University of the Philippines – Minggan, and the Office of Bayan Muna Party-list. Rep. Karlos Zarate.
“The case of OceanaGold’s Didipio mine, widely acclaimed within the large-scale mining industry as ‘the overall safest mining operation in the Philippines’, is illustrative of the pollutive, destructive, and dangerous brand of ‘responsible mining’ permitted and encouraged by our mining laws and other related policies,” the groups said in a position paper presented to the MGB citing results of fact-finding missions held from 2013 up to present.
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan said they have strong evidence against OceanaGold’s Didipio mine.
“We demand the immediate suspension of OceanaGold’s operations until the necessary investigative, rehabilitative and punitive measures are implemented,” Bautista said.
Aside from the petition for immediate suspension and a subsequent comprehensive investigation, the groups also called for the just compensation to communities and the environment that were affected by OceanaGold’s environmental and socio-economic impacts, and a review of local and national policies relevant to the case of the mining company, including but not limited to the Mining Act of 1995, Pollution Control Law, and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, among others.
Jasareno said the recommendations of the petitioners were “very sensible,” and proposed a multi-disciplinary team investigation in the soonest possible time involving representatives from all parties concerned. Jasareno also promised the MGB’s full cooperation with the efforts of the environmental groups to hold OceanaGold accountable, including the petitioners’ request for relevant public documents.