Researchers find mining company repeatedly violated mining laws and regulations, harming local community
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 MiningWatch Canada 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;
- ample documentation of the detrimental impacts of the OceanaGold mine on water, forests, land, indigenous peoples, human rights, biodiversity, and workers’ rights;
- Nueva Vizcaya’s agriculture – one of Luzon’s most bountiful sources of fruits and vegetables – is threatened by adverse environmental impacts of the mine; and
- elevated levels of copper, lead, manganese, cadmium, sulphates, iron, arsenic, and selenium are found in rivers and streams around the mine, potentially decreasing agricultural yields and affecting fish in the surrounding waterways.
Given these findings, the study recommends denying the mining company OceanaGold's request for renewal after its licence runs out in June 2019, as well as requests by the company for new exploration permits.
The study reinforces the findings of President Duterte’s first Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Gina Lopez, 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 dozen that Lopez recommended be suspended or shut down.
IPS and MiningWatch Canada released a similar study on OceanaGold’s operations in El Salvador in the build-up to El Salvador, in 2017, becoming 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.
You can find the full study online at https://miningwatch.ca/sites/default/files/oceanagold-report.pdf.