TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines – Several provincial officials of Nueva Vizcaya province have promised to block the renewal of a soon-to-expire permit of OceanaGold Philippines Incorporated (OGPI), a foreign mining firm.
Board Member Flodemonte Gerdan, chairman of the Committee on Environment of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, said the board will prevent the renewal of OGPI’s permit, citing environmental and human rights issues the company allegedly neglected.
Gerdan said board members vowed to vote against the endorsement of OGPI’s permit, which is set to expire in 2019.
“This mining company has shown bad faith in its dealings with our province, and must no longer be allowed to continue operating for all the sufferings it has brought to our people,” Gerdan told Inquirer’s Melvin Gascon.
The OGPI operates an open pit mine in Didipio village in Kasibu town. They produce tons of copper and gold, and have done so since acquiring a permit in 1994.
Several anti-mining groups in the province had sought for help from local officials on the alleged violations of the mining firm.
In an interview on Tuesday, March 6, provincial Governor Carlos Padilla said he supported the move of the provincial board to block the renewal of OGPI’s permit.
“I even support that, and we are now doing something in order to concretize our position to block [mining]. Hindi lang puro salita, pero we will support it with strong actions, and concrete support,” Padilla said.
He said the board’s latest action is a “proof” that the officials are walking their talks.
He also lauded several groups help in the local government’s efforts to restrict mining in the province, including the Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK).
“It’s not just the [provincial local government unit], but it is the concerted effort with the private sector, especially with the people’s organization, mga concerned groups.
Padilla also earlier testified before El Salvador’s Congress on the supposed risks of metallic mining on the environment.
In his testimony, the governor called OGPI’s mining operation as an “environmental disaster,” accusing OceanaGold of destroying 975 acres of grasslands, forests and species habitats, inciting strife and theft, and causing respiratory problems in neighboring communities.
He said the mining company has put “great risk” at the watersheds in Nueva Vizcaya and had also exhausted wells and rice irrigation canals. – Rappler.com