Philippines: New report alleges human rights & environmental violations by Australian-Canadian miner OceanaGold

A new report (linked below) by Robin Broad, John Cavanagh, Catherine Coumans, & Rico La Vina published by the Institute for Policy Studies (U.S.) & MiningWatch Canada concludes that OceanaGold's (an Australian-Canadian company) Didipio Gold and Copper Mine in the Philippines has had a significant negative impact on human rights and the environment. The authors urge non-renewal of the company's Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) which permits its mining operations and that the company be considered ineligible for additional exploration permits.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited OceanaGold to respond to the allegations. The company's response is linked below. 

OceanaGold Report

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18 December 2018

Indigenous rights defenders targeted over opposition to OceanaGold Mine seek support from Canadian Embassy in Philippines

Author: MiningWatch Canada

In October, 27 individuals and a number of organizations in the Philippines found themselves targeted in a way that is a common precursor to extra-judicial killings... “The only thing these red-tagged people and organizations have in common is that they are known to be critical of the OceanaGold mine and supportive of the locally affected Ifugao Indigenous people,” says Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina (Alliance Against Mining - ATM). “The mine has had a major negative impact on their food security and water resources, among others.”

... The OceanaGold mine’s 25 year lease comes up for renewal in 2019. Local opposition to the mine is one factor that will be taken into consideration in the mine lease renewal process. “I am deeply concerned that these Indigenous people, and those who support them, now have targets on their backs for no other reason than that they are standing up against a Canadian mining project that has a history of human rights abuses and unacceptable environmental impacts,” says Catherine Coumans, of MiningWatch Canada. “For that reason the Canadian embassy must do everything in its power to keep these people safe.” 

Read the full post here

17 December 2018

Background brief: Human rights defenders call on Canadian Embassy to take action in alignment with govt's "Voices at Risk" guidelines

Author: Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada

"Background Brief: Information provided to the Canadian Embassy during a visit on November 15, 2018"

This brief summarizes information provided to the Second Secretary of the Canadian Embassy in Manila... [by] four indigenous Ifugao human and environmental rights defenders...; one member of a national public-interest scientific organization (AGHAM); members of two Philippine national support organizations, Alyansa Tigil Mina and Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment, and Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada... [A] request was made by the affected villagers from Didipio that embassy staff take action in alignment with the Government of Canada’s “Voices at Risk” guidelines to protect the individuals and organizations named in the October 2018 “red tagging” incidents... [where] signs named both local and national Civil Society Organizations and accused them of having some form of association with the New People’s Army... followed up by a pamphlet that was distributed at bus stops and other public places... All of the individuals from Nueva Vizcaya who are named have one thing in common, they have been critical of the human rights and environmental impacts of large scale mining in the Province, or have provided support to local individuals or organizations in these struggles... The public naming of individuals and legitimate public interest organizations in posters and pamphlets... is... often a precursor to violent action against, and extra-judicial killings of, these named individuals.

Read the full post here

NGO rejoinder
17 December 2018

MiningWatch Canada and the Institute for Policy Studies: Rejoinder to OceanaGold

19 November 2018

"OceanaGold Philippines Inc.’s (OceanaGold) response to the Business and Human RightsResource Center (November 19, 2018) does not address, let alone refute, the critical findings in our October 31 Report: OceanaGold in the Philippines: Ten Violations that Should Prompt Its Removal.

Further Evidence of Ongoing Harm Supports our Report’s Findings:

...1.   The mine does not have a social license to operate, nor the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the Indigenous Peoples in Didipio. ...[R]esidents...expressed frustration at the OceanaGold’s lack of responsiveness to their concerns....

2. Depletion of groundwater. ...[W]ells have run dry, residents now need to pay for water services or buy bottled water for drinking and cooking....

3. Contamination of surface water. Residents spoke about the contamination of rivers around the mine making the water no longer suitable for irrigation as rice crops die when irrigated with the contaminated water. 

4. Failure to comply with commitments made in a 2013 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the community....

5. Labour rights. ...[T]he mine has reduced its labour force by firing workers over the age of 50. Some...are being re-hired only as contract workers....

6. Security. ...[R]esidents voiced concerns that OceanaGold has failed to publicly condemn this dangerous targeting of individuals and organizations, including from Didipio, who are known to speak out in defense of environmental and human rights. "

Download the full document here

Company response
20 November 2018

OceanaGold's Response to allegations about Dipidio Gold and Copper Mine, Philippines

Author: OceanaGold

We appreciate the opportunity to provide information about the social and environmental performance of our Didipio Gold and Copper Mine in the Philippines in response to the report recently published by the Institute for Policy Studies and MiningWatch Canada...

In 2018, we commenced a two-year effort to enhance Human Rights respect and performance in the business, including training for executive leadership, our Board, management teams and staff, and a human rights due diligence process conducted across our global operations. We are implementing this due diligence process in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The Didipio Mine regularly engages with local communities to collaborate on social development initiatives, address community questions and concerns about our operations, and listen to feedback on how to improve our performance. We have regular community meetings, and a community-based office through which community members can raise concerns and be provided feedback. We also have a confidential whistle-blower hotline service, managed by Deloitte, through which anyone can report concerns relating to non-compliance with our corporate Code of Conduct. 

We have received complaints from some community members regarding surface rights acquisition and other land related issues. Didipio has an established complaints process for community members to discuss and seek a collective resolution of these concerns. Where the company and the complainant are not able to resolve the issue, the process is moved to a Panel of Arbitrators as set out in the Philippine Mining Act of 1995...

From 2014 – 2017, Didipio invested US$18.5 million in 11 communities adjacent to the mine in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. This includes US$11.1 million in voluntary initiatives in collaboration with communities and government to support agricultural development, skills training, education, health, small business development and infrastructure improvement. The remaining US$7.4 million makes up the Social Development and Management Program (SDMP), mandated by the Philippines Mining Law, which requires 1.5% of the mine’s annual operating costs to be invested in designated social programs... 

Download the full document here

11 November 2018

OceanaGold in the Philippines: Ten Violations that Should Prompt Its Removal

Author: Robin Broad, John Cavanagh, Catherine Coumans, & Rico La Vina, Institute for Policy Studies (U.S.) & MiningWatch Canada

31 October 2018

...This report lays out the results of our investigation...of numerous violations by OceanaGold....

1. Water

OceanaGold is depleting and contaminating water around the mine.... 

2. Forests

OceanaGold has failed in its obligations around reforestation....

3. Land

OceanaGold has...committed illegal land conversion, and has operated in areas beyond its approved project area....

4. Chemicals

...The damage to trees in the tailings pond and impacts on water quality and biota downstream suggests that chemicals used in, or released through processing, are dangerous to the health of surface waters as well as potentially to groundwater.

5. Human Rights

There have been numerous violations of human rights since the beginning of construction of the mine.  

6. Indigenous Rights

The company violated local indigenous peoples’ right to manifest their culture and identity....  

7. Biodiversity

There is evidence that the mine is threatening the rich biodiversity of the area....

8. Labor Rights

The Didipio mine has failed to significantly improve the welfare of its employees....

9. Irresponsible Global Actor

OceanaGold has...multiple violations of Philippine laws as well as the terms of its current FTAA.

10. Viable Development Alternatives

...[A] robust economy in Nueva Vizcaya, centered in threatened by the mining industry.

Read the full post here

14 October 2018

Nueva Vizcaya officials vow to block renewal of OceanaGold mining permit

Author: Raymon Dullana, Rappler

6 March 2018

...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.

...Several anti-mining groups in the province had sought for help from local officials on the alleged violations of the mining firm.

...[P]rovincial Governor Carlos Padilla...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. 

Read the full post here