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Green group skeptical of mining company’s human rights policy

Oceana Gold must dutifully act and not simply pay lip service about human rights.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is skeptical about OceanaGold’s commitment and sincerity to meaningfully respect human right in its mining operations. Our experience with their Philippine company OGPI (Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc.) has been a series of human rights abuse and lip-service to complaints of affected-communities.

On June 19, OceanaGold, the parent company of OGPI, released its human rights policy. The company stated that it’s committed to respecting all human rights that "includes respecting the human rights of our employees, individuals and groups in the communities where we operate, workers in our supply chain, and other stakeholders affected by our business activities."

Based on the track record of OGPI in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, it had disregarded the community's rights by disrespecting community consultations, disregarding LGU demands and impeding the rights of the local community. Last April 6, 2020, OGPI diesel tankers forcibly entered the mining site. This incident led to the violent dispersal of a peaceful sit-in protest that resulted in the illegal arrest of a local leader and injuring other community members.

The forced entry of the diesel tankers was illegal and against the people of Nueva Vizcaya. The people's barricade set-up last June 2019 by the local organizations is a clear indication of the people's rejection of the continued illegal operations of OGPI in Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu town.

OGPI’s mining contract had already expired, so there should be no activity inside the mine. Additionally, the local governments have not given any permission for the mining company to operate. Last March 2020, the area was part of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) due to COVID19 and therefore, no work activity is permitted. The action of OGPI was a clear violation of the work-stoppage, physical distancing, and the quarantine procedures imposed by the ECQ in the whole Luzon island. OGPI disregarded the safety of not only the community but also its workers.

To this day, OGPI has not sufficiently responded to the landmark resolution of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) issued last 2011, stating that OGPI and the Philippine government have failed to recognize and protect the rights of affected peoples in the mine site. The CHR has also recommended the revocation of the mining contract.

ATM calls on OGPI to respect the decision of local communities in Didipio and the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya to reject any further mining operations in the province. That is the substantial application of respecting human rights.

We will hold Oceana Gold accountable to all of its human rights obligations, as we stand with the people of DIdipio, resisting the continued illegal operations of OGPI.

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