OceanaGold seeks injunction for continued copper-gold mine operations at Didipio
CONTESTING the authority of local government units (LGUs) to stop large-scale mining operations, OceanaGold Corp. has filed an injunction against “unauthorized restraint of its operations” at Didipio mine, a high-grade copper-gold mine in Nueva Vizcaya Province.
Subsequently, OceanaGold, one of the country’s top copper and gold producers, is set to assert its right to continue operation, anchored on the permit it has obtained from national government regulators, and the permitting process it has hurdled under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
A hearing is set on July 10, Wednesday. In a statement, OceanaGold Corp. said the petition for an injunction was filed in response to an order from the governor of Nueva Vizcaya directing the LGU to stop the company’s operation of the mines on the ground of its expired financial and/or technical assistance Agreement (FTAA) which lapsed on June 20, 2019.
The statement did not reveal to which institution it has filed the injunction.
Anti-mining protesters have been barricading entry and exit routes to the mine in Barangay Didipio in Kasibu town since the company’s FTAA expired last month and has called on President Duterte to nix the company’s application to renew its mining permit on account of alleged massive environmental destruction and human-rights violations committed against the communities.
OceanaGold said that subsequent to the governor’s order, a local government unit prevented a large supply truck from accessing the mine site on Monday, July 1. While operations continue at the mine, the company proactively halted truck movements, including copper concentrate, to prevent the potential for escalation.
However, OceanaGold said the decision has not impacted the supply of copper concentrate for shipment.
Light vehicles, people and food supplies continue to access the site, the company said.
As reported on June 27, 2019, the company lodged its application for renewal of the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the Philippine Government in March 2018 and received a confirmation on June 20, 2019 from its regulatory authority, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), that the Didipio Mine is permitted to continue operations pending the confirmation of the FTAA renewal.
Authority over the Didipio operation rests with the National Government.
OceanaGold saidm the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act 7160) does not grant the power or authority to the Provincial Governor or any local government officer to restrain any aspect of the Didipio operation.
“The company has attempted engagement with the Provincial Government to resolve their current position. Unfortunately, the company has had to file for an injunction to ensure local government units recognize the legitimacy of Didipio’s continued right to operate and the national government’s legal authority over the operation,” the statement pointed out.
OceanaGold Corp. maintained that the operation of the Didipio Mine has delivered significant socio-economic benefits to the Barangay of Didipio, its neighboring communities, the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and the Philippines.
“It directly employs over 1,500 workers of which 97 percent are Philippine nationals and 59 perent are from local communities. It provides several thousands of additional livelihood opportunities /indirect jobs through partnerships with cooperatives and social development organizations,” it said.
Moreover, OceanaGold maintains that the company has operated to the highest of standards environmentally and socially for the past 30 years.