Didipio gold and copper mine ‘on hold’

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 03 Dec 2008

OceanaGold’s announcement today that it has placed the Didipio Gold and Copper mine in the Northern Philippines on a ‘care and maintenance’ basis is welcome news for the Didipio community.
The Melbourne-based company has cited the ‘deterioration of global economic conditions’.
Oxfam Australia executive director Andrew Hewett said many members of the community were vehemently opposed to the project, which had been dogged by controversy and allegations of human rights abuse.
Allegations include harassment and intimidation, and the demolition of people’s homes often without a court order to do so or without sufficient compensation. In the worst incident, a local man was shot by a security guard employed by the mine.
“For those community members who feared the mine would destroy their livelihoods, this suspension is very welcome news,” Mr Hewett said.
“A community member today told us the announcement was an ‘early Christmas gift’ for the people.
"While the current financial crisis is clearly a factor here, OceanaGold’s poor social record in Didipio would no doubt have been off-putting for potential investors.
“If the mine goes ahead again in future, we hope OceanaGold fundamentally rethinks its approach, which clearly failed to win community support.”
At the community’s invitation, Oxfam Australia conducted a five-year investigation into the project, which resulted in the publication of a major report a year ago.
It found that many villagers in Didipio complained of harassment and intimidation by agents of the mine operator. Alleged tactics included attempting to pressure people to sell their land at a price determined by OceanaGold and threatening legal proceedings against illiterate farmers – allegations flatly denied by OceanaGold.
Oxfam Australia has called on the Australian mining industry and parliament to establish an independent complaints mechanism to help resolve complaints from communities affected by Australian mining operations overseas and avoid situations such as those that occurred in Didipio.
For more information or to interview Andrew Hewett, please contact Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100 or laurellek@oxfam.org.au