OceanaGold asked to refute complaints
Environment Secretary Regina Lopez said Wednesday the government would issue a show cause order to OceanaGold Philippines Inc. to give the mining company a chance to explain why the extension of its mining permit should not be canceled.
“There’s a show cause. I am not pleased that the community and the governor are super unhappy with their operations,” she said.
Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno earlier said the government would review the extension permit granted to OceanaGold for its Didipio mine in Nueva Vizcaya.
NGO group Alyansa Tigil Mina asked the Environment Department to withdraw the exploration permit granted to OceanaGold, saying the mining area used to be a rich agricultural land.
Earlier this year, MGB gave the mining company another five years to explore its 15,000 hectares mining tenement. The permit will last until 2021.
OceanaGold has already explored 975 hectares out of the 15,000 hectares covered by the tenement.
“Definitely, something is not right, otherwise there will not be all these complaints. There are complaints of dumpling toxicity on rice fields, taking the water supply of the farmers such as they don’t have enough for their rice lands,” Lopez said.
She said the mining company should also compensate the farmers for any damage done and loss of income.
“I talked to the farmers today and I promised them justice. But there has to be due process and I also promised it will not take time. The final decision should be in by next week,” Lopez said.
OceanaGold denied its mining exploration area was an agricultural land.
“There should be no reason why that should be withdrawn because that was just given to us. I have not been formally advised,” said OceanaGold Philippines chairman Jose Leviste Jr.
Leviste said the company would wait for the official advise and respond to the order.
“We don’t want to go to agricultural areas. We want to go to highly-mineralized,” Leviste said.
He said the company remained optimistic about the current administration’s thrust on responsible mining.
“We hope to explore more in the Philippines. We are working closely if we can explore tenements in Surigao,” Leviste said.