• Philippine Resources

Didipio Mine: The Renewal of the Philippines’ First FTAA

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

By Marcelle Villegas


The Didipio Mine of OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI) is a gold and copper mine located across the provinces of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya. It is considered one of the safest gold mining operations in the world.


OGPI received numerous awards such as two Presidential Awards as the most environmentally and socially responsible mining operations in the Philippines. On the international scene, the company was awarded the 1st ASEAN Mineral Award for best practices in sustainable development.


OGPI’s Didipio mine site is considered one of the safest gold mining operations in the world, because for the past two years, the company has deployed state-of-the-art automated and digital underground mining technology. The Didipio Mine also implements International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certified environmental management system (ISO14001:2015), Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSAS 18001:2007) and Energy Management System (ISO50001:2011).


It is notable that OGPI has delivered significant socio-economic benefits to the Barangays of Didipio, neighboring communities, the province of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. It directly employs 1,500 workers where approximately 97% are Filipinos, with 59% hailing from local communities. The company also provides several thousands of additional livelihood opportunities and indirect jobs through partnerships with cooperatives and social development organisations.


“OceanaGold has given us our three basic needs: School, Roads and Electricity,” Pastor Efren H. Bulawan, Resident and Local Didipio Leader. [1]


During the September Monthly Membership Meeting of the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association (PMEA), Mr Jason Magdaong, Environmental/MEPEO & Compliance Manager of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. was a guest speaker. His presentation was titled “Didipio Mine: The Renewal of the Philippines’ First FTAA”. [2]


From his report, he stated that OGPI generated over 3000 jobs as part of its economic contribution to the country. In the development of their host communities, they have the following accomplishments:

  • a total of 119kms of road improved and developed

  • 201 scholars graduated since 2007, 11 mining engineers produced

  • trained and produced 114 local residents as globally competitive underground mine workers

  • established a community-owned corporation that offers a multitude of services of OGPI

  • financially and technically supporting 13 agricultural cooperatives and establishing local and regional markets



FTAA Renewal Process and Challenges


On March 2018, OGPI submitted its applications for its Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) renewal with the Philippine Government. The company is currently working with the National Government to complete the renewal.


As of 20 June 2019, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued a letter authorising the Didipio Mine to continue its operations while the confirmation of the FTAA renewal by the Government is pending. By 25 June 2019, the Provincial Local Government Unit of Nueva Vizcaya (PLGU NV) ordered the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENARO), Philippine National Police (PNP), Municipal Local Government Unit of Kasibu (MLGU) and Barangay Local Government Unit of Didipio (BLGU) to restrain any operations of the company after 20 June 2019.


Then, on 1 July 2019, BLGU Didipio started blockade and hindered access to and from the mine site in response to the PLGU NV Order. By 25 July 2019, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Nueva Vizcaya denied the Writ of Preliminary Injunction prayed by OGPI to enjoin the enforcement of the Order pending the determination of the case with the local court. On 29 July 2019, OGPI appealed the decision by the RTC to deny the Injunction of the Court of Appeals


This blockade has the following impact on the Didipio mine operation:

  • voluntary ceased copper concentrate haulage

  • suspension of underground activities due to depletion of consumable mining supplies

  • impending depletion of consumable processing supplies

  • impending temporary suspension of operation which will directly affect 1,516 employees


The blockade also affects the community through the suspension of the PHP300M+ worth Social Development Management Program and Corporate Social Responsibility Projects of 11 beneficiary barangays with 15,000+ residents, namely:

  • 273 Barangay Health Workers, Security/Utility, Teachers and SDMP Staffs being subsidised

  • 193 scholars currently being supported

  • 3,000+ members/employees of cooperatives being assisted


Additionally, major community development projects are on hold, namely:

  • Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino Road network

  • Didipio water system

  • Kasibu Sanitary Landfill

  • Didipio Gymnasium


In response to the blockade, the community resorted to the following action:

  • July 3 dialogue with MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano and DENR Key Officials to show support for FTAA renewal

  • Various dialogues with BLGU and MLGU

  • August 6 dialogue with Governor Padilla to recall his order in restraining the operation


In summary, OGPI is actively working with the national government in finalising the renewal to ensure another 25 years of operation. The company is also involved in continuous efforts to try and engage with the Provincial Government, continuous community support for the renewal, and continuous legal process on the Governor’s restraint order. OGPI stated that they remains focused on the safety of workers and the environment.


When the Didipio Operation started in 2013, it became a catalyst for an enormous economic transformation and development. OGPI’s major initiative was to contribute to the local economy through the construction of a PhP43-million senior high school building at Eastern Nueva Vizcaya National High School. [1]


OceanaGold Philippines Inc. is a proud member of the UN Global Compact, which means absolute transparency in their commitment to the universal sustainability principles of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. This commitment is front and center of their corporate governance and at the heart of OGPI’s Didipio operations, because sustainability means earning the right to remain a valuable part of the community for many years to come. [1]


#DidipioMine #OceanaGoldPH #ResponsibleMining #Philippines


Reference:

[1] Retrieved from OceanaGold Philippines Inc. Facebook page

[2] Magdaong, Jason. (3 September 2019). “Didipio Mine: The Renewal of the Philippines’ First FTAA”. Presentation during the Monthly Membership Meeting of the Philipping Mining and Exploration Association (Manila Elks Club, Makati City)

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