Environmentalists, locals troop to DENR to call for implementation of mine ban ordinance in Nueva Vizcaya

Source: 
Kalikasan PNE press release
Date of publication: 
27 January, 2015

The environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) joined various groups from the Cagayan Valley region who trooped to the national office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today, calling for the immediate stoppage of large scale mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya.

This was after an environmental ordinance banning the use of open-pit mining in the province was recently passed. Mining proponents however claimed that the said ordinance was not retroactive and did not cover the existing operations that include FCF Minerals and Oceanagold. Oceanagold operates a gold mining operation in Bgy. Didipio, Kasibu while UK based FCF is developing a large-scale mining in Bgy. Runruno, Quezon both in Nueva Vizcaya province.

“We express solidarity with Novo Vizcayanos and the rest of the people of Cagayan Valley in their just demand to halt the mining operations of Oceanagold and FCF Minerals. Nueva Vizcaya, known as Cagayan Valley’s Watershed Haven, should be spared from further environmental pollution and destruction, and resource depletion. Local ordinances have been passed in the province as a clear expression of the people’s opposition to these mines and as a legitimate policy basis for the stoppage of these projects,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Oceanagold and FCF Minerals are Australian and British mining companies, respectively, both operating in the province of Nueva Vizcaya under Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) issued by the national government. Currently, Oceana Gold has been in the extraction phase for over a year while FCF Minerals has been in the construction phase since 2012.

“Recent scientific studies revealed that the operations of both OceanaGold and FCF Minerals have resulted in the clear pollution of different freshwater ecosystems, biodiversity loss within mine operations and its adjacent environments, and the socio-economic and cultural dislocation of different affected communities,” noted Karl Begnotea, research biologist of Kalikasan PNE.

Citing the results of a 2014 Environmental Investigative Mission (EIM), high levels of copper, a toxic heavy metal, were found in the sediments and water samples from the river impacted from operations of these two mining companies. Additionally, the populations of organisms thriving in the impacted river were found to be relatively lower as compared to nearby unaffected rivers also tested in the EIM.

Several cases of human rights violation were also recorded since the operation of the two companies. Instances of threats, intimidation and deception by the mines were documented. Moreover, according to the residents, restrictions were imposed by the companies that limited the activities of locals and affected their livelihood.

“The DENR should listen to the demands of the people of Cagayan Valley that travelled hundreds of kilometers away from their communities to demonstrate their determination in protecting their livelihood and environment. They should respect the political will of the frontline communities that have borne the brunt of OceanaGold an FCF Minerals’ pollutive and destructive operations,” Bautista ended.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, 09228449787 Karl Begnotea 09263140752

Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756 | E-mail: secretariat [at] kalikasan [dot] net | Site: www.kalikasan.net