Environmental groups picket OceanaGold office as hazardous tunneling commences in its Didipio mines

Source: 
Kalikasan PNE press release
Date of publication: 
4 March, 2015

Provincial and national environmental groups held a picket protest at the national office of Australian large-scale mining corporation OceanaGold today, as tunneling activities for its underground mining commenced today amidst widespread opposition from local communities.

“OceanaGold’s demonstrates once again its penchant to brazenly bulldoze over the mounting opposition of communities in commencing its expansion towards underground mining. With virtually no legitimate consultation in this phase of its mine project, and with multiple outstanding violations of environmental, socio-economic and land rights, OceanaGold’s potentially hazardous expansion should immediately be stopped and its operations should be halted,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

The picket protest was also joined by the University of the Philippines-based environment group Minggan, the Didipio Earth Savers Multipurpose Association or DESAMA, and the Alyansa ng mga Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan or ANNVIK.

The protesters formed a visual timeline of Didipio’s destruction, showing the relatively preserved state of Dinkidi Hill in the area back in 2008, its open-pit mining destruction taken during a scoping study in 2013 just months after its commercial operation, and its current state as seen in a recent Australian-PH fact-finding mission held during the first week of February this year.

An environmental investigative mission held in 2014 by Kalikasan PNE, in partnership with ANNVIK, scientist group AGHAM, and ANNVIK, and supported by the Ecosystem Alliance, revealed that sediment samples were 7.4 times above the severe-effect level for benthic organisms, and that water samples meanwhile were two times above the safe levels for irrigation use and eight times above the safety levels for aquatic organisms.

According to Bautista, “local communities are already experiencing damages to their properties because of OceanaGold’s constant blasting activities right beneath their lands. The freshwater table is also reportedly quickly drying up as the mine operations continue to deplete its reserves.”

“While Novo Vizcayanos are suffering from land subsidence, heavily silted and polluted rivers, and massive community displacement spurred by OceanaGold, we continue to gain nothing in return from their enterprise. OceanaGold continues to refuse payment for its outstanding tax obligations to local government and its undelivered promises of compensation to landowners in Didipio. That it has already plundered at least 30,000 metric tons of copper means that there is 30,000 metric tons worth of what could have been used for genuine national industrialization and people’s development,” Bautista furthered.

The groups vowed to step up their pressure for OceanaGold’s immediate suspension and investigation, and to raise concerns over its operations in Congress.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, national coordinator – Kalikasan PNE – 0922 844 9787

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Email: kalikasan.pne [at] gmail [dot] com
Website: http://www.kalikasan.net