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LRC decries renewal of OceanaGold mining permit

Reacting to news that the financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) with Australian-ownedOceanaGold Philippines (OGPI) for a gold mining project in Nueva Vzcaya has been renewed by the Duterte administration, LRC’s direct services coordinator, Atty. Ryan Roset, said:

“This renewal of the permit for OceanaGold Philippines to continue to mine in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya flies in the face of the will of the local government and groups of Tuwali indigenous people. They have long maintained that OceanaGold has adversely affected agricultural livelihoods, caused water and air pollution, and divided the community.”

Last year, the regional trial court of Nueva Vizcaya upheld the restraining order imposed by Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla. The appeal of the mining corporation was denied by the Court of Appeals, finding the order of the Governor valid and legal. Since the termination of the FTAA, the community has installed a people’s barricade to prevent mining operations. The actions by the provincial government and the communities are founded on the negative impacts of OceanaGold’s 25 years of mining operations, which include the degradation of the environment and threats to people's health and livelihoods.

“This renewal comes on the heels of Malacañang’s issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 130, lifting the ban on new mineral agreements put in place by a previous EO of the Benigno Aquino III administration. The lifting of the ban is itself informed by pronouncements by the Duterte administration and its allies to pursue mining as a strategy for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“But pursuing extractivism, in light of the pandemic, is counterintuitive. Studies have shown that industrial encroachment on nature facilitates human interaction with pathogens. The COVID-19 pandemic is one in an alarming series of public health crises that demands governments investigate the ramifications of exploiting natural resources to serve a predatory and unfettered model of accumulation.”

If allowed to continue, OceanaGold will have another 25 years to further aggravate the already dire situation of the community and the environment. Community members have reported alarming water depletion and health hazards. According to studies, mining has a great impact on water sources, both by depleting water supplies with high volume use and pollution from the discharges or seepage from mine tailings.

“We call on the public to choose leaders in 2022 who will prioritize environmental conservation and the rights of indigenous peoples over dirty profit.”

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