On July 16, Bishop Elmer Mangalinao of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya expressed his sadness and concern about the renewal of OceanaGold Corp’s contract with the government. OceanaGold Corp, an Australian-Canadian mining company, has been renewed for another 25 years by President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the Malacañang Palace.
“This news breaks our heart but it will never silence us to fight for our common home,” Bishop Mangalinao said. He added that the decision was ‘distressing’ especially since the public and those living in the area were not consulted before the contract renewal. (Read: Caritas PH Condemns Duterte for Lifting the Mining Ban)
“We strongly decry this decision…We will also continue to speak until our voices will be heard,” the bishop added.
Disputes in the area
Two years ago, OceanaGold had to stop operations after a dispute with the local government. Environmental organizations and environmentalists are also against the gold-copper mining operations in Didipio, Nueva Ecija.
“Oceana has done violations that was not addressed over the past administrations and including this current one,” said Leon Dulce, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment national coordinator, in 2019. (Read: ‘Lifting of Mining Ban a Sign That Election Is Nearing’ – Bishop Pabillo)
In addition, it is said that the mining corporation has committed violations with regard to its operations. “There are plenty of pending reports, complaints, government resolutions, and other documented evidence that Oceanagold violated various environmental, socioeconomic, and human rights regulations which should warrant the mine’s stoppage and not its perpetuation,” Dulce added.
According to Bishop Mangalinao, the promised benefits of the operations will “never outweigh the destruction” that the mining will cause to the environment.
The OceanaGold Corp project plans to restart operations as soon as possible. They are looking into producing 10,000 ounces of gold and 1,000 tonnes of copper per month once operations resume.
“This government has once again favored interest and profit over the ill effects of mining on our ecology and the indigenous communities that were also divided because of this mining issue in our province,” the bishop expressed.
“We will continue to pray for the end of mining in our province. We are and we will always be against mining,” he added.