Filipino community takes action to block OceanaGold mining activities

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 02 Oct 2007

The Filipino community threatened by the proposed Oceanagold gold and copper mine launched a formal action to stop water permits for the mine in recent days with the Philippines’ National Water Resources Board, on the grounds it would contaminate their water supply, cause environmental hazards as well as threaten farming and their way of life.
The action by the community is evidence of significant opposition to the mine in Didipio as has been documented in Oxfam’s mining watchdog report, which was dismissed by Melbourne mine operator OceanaGold as ‘misleading and inaccurate’.
According to Oxfam’s Mining Ombudsman Shanta Martin, this is another demonstration that OceanaGold does not have the consent of the whole community to mine and that there is in fact significant opposition to the project by many in the community as well as the elected local Council.
‘OceanaGold has got to acknowledge the reality to the public and its shareholders. The democratically elected local Council opposes the mine and it is backed up many local people in Didipio. . It’s time to stop the denial and start the dialogue. The company should put the project on hold until the community’s concerns are heard and resolved, including investigating their serious allegations of bribery, harassment and intimidation.’
Last week women from Didipio formally filed a protest against the company to protect their water resources, claiming it would pose a big threat to farmers as this would deprive them of water to their farms. They also claim that the mine operation posed a big threat to their way of life and would deprive the community of an adequate water supply.
On Monday this week, Oxfam published its Mining Ombudsman report in which Filipino villagers accused OceanaGold of harassment and the use of strong arm tactics to pressure them to accept its plans to develop a large gold and copper mine. Tactics include allegedly attempting to pressure people to sell their land at a price determined by OceanaGold and threatening legal proceedings against illiterate farmers. Villagers also assert that OceanaGold has deliberately incited an adversarial atmosphere that has fuelled community division over the proposed mine operation.
And in what would constitute a serious breach of Australian law, Oxfam’s Mining Ombudsman heard allegations that company representatives offered financial inducements to members of the democratically elected Didipio Barangay Council in the form of money, employment and enormously inflated offers for their land.
‘These are serious allegations that we have raised with the Australian Federal Police and Australian Securities and Investment Commission. Instead of acting irresponsibly and summarily dismissing these allegations, the company should do the right thing by the community and immediately investigate and resolve their claims,’ added Ms Martin.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Shanta Martin call Ian Woolverton on 0409 181 454