Duterte Orders OceanaGold Contract Renegotiation
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
The President has ordered the renegotiation of the contract of Australian-Canadian mining company OceanaGold.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Office of the President (OP) issued an order to the Philippine panel to begin negotiating with the mining firm on the conditions of its financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA).
“We wanted to finish the negotiation fast without sacrificing government interests so that the project can begin to contribute to the economic recovery of the country and most of all the stakeholders of the project,” MGB director Wilfredo Moncano said.
The FTAA for OceanGold for its Didipio mine in Nueva Vizcaya expired in June 2019 and has failed to get a renewal and therefore, local authorities implemented mine closure. Presently, 76 per cent of its 1,500 workforce - which come from local communities in Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya - have been laid off.
OceanaGold said that it has received notifications by the OP about the renegotiation.
“The OP gave instructions to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Finance to engage with us and renegotiate,” OceanaGold Philippines communications manager Marjorie Idio said. “But as to the details, we really haven’t commenced discussions. We were just informed very recently. We are still waiting for further instructions, but we are looking at this in a very positive light.”
Earlier, the OP found some defaults - such that the deficiency based on the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, the first 25 years of the mining firm was not covered by the IPRA law, the area of the mine was outside the ancestral realm of the Bugkalot tribe, and that during the renewal, the tribe also filed for an application of expansion - which covered the area of OceanGold.
Even if it has received the endorsement from the MGB and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources since last year, the FTAA final renewal of OceanGold dragged on. The President has the final decision on the renewal of an FTAA.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association (PMEA) highlighted that the renegotiation of OceanaGold is a positive development for the industry.
“This is much better rather than we are in limbo and doing nothing. We are moving forward and we might see Didipio mine contributing substantially next year,” PMEA president Joey Ayson said.
Once renewed, OceanaGold said it would work to re-hire some of the people that the mining firm has laid off.