Raymon Dullana and Leander Domingo
 Published: 2:39 October 5, 2016
 Updated: 2:39 October 5, 2016

CAGAYAN, Philippines- The OceanaGold on said it is disappointed of the recent announcement made by the officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the suspension of its Didipio mine in Kasibu town in Nueva Vizcaya province.

In a press statement, OceanaGold said it has that it has not received any formal order from the DENR and “is currently seeking clarification and further details.”
On Tuesday, September 27, DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said that the suspension of OceanaGold was based on the grounds of social issues such as the request of the provincial government to cancel its exploration permit and its threats to houses, residents and agriculture near the area.

Aside from OceanaGold, DENR Undersecretary Leo Jasareno announced 19 other firms which were recommended for suspension saying that most common violations are siltation, dust, no tree-cutting permits, and unsystematic mining methods.

These mining firms will be given a show cause order and will be asked to answer within seven days upon receiving the order.

Jasareno also revealed 11 out of the 41 mining firms that are not recommended for suspension, but will continue to be monitored and they also have to correct their infractions.

Operation continues

OceanaGold said that while no formal order is yet to be sent, the mining and drilling activities are continuing at the area.

The company said it will continue to collaborate with the DENR to facilitate the “immediately resolve of this matter to ensure no disruption to our operations and our valued local workforce.”

OceanaGold said it has been observing “responsible mining” and was confident to pass the mining audit since day one.

“We pride ourselves, and have been recognised on numerous occasions, for being a responsible mining company with a long history of operating to the highest industry standards on health, safety, environment, community and sustainability. We are disappointed with the statements made earlier today and will seek clarification and reconsideration from the DENR to further understand and rectify this matter in short order,” Mick Wilkes, President and CEO said.

Wilkes added that the Didipio Mine has received international and national awards related to its strong track record for health and safety, environmental management and community engagement.

“Since 2011, OceanaGold has proactively engaged with local and regional stakeholders and has established a strong and cooperative relationship based on mutual respect. The operation has delivered significant direct and indirect benefits to its host communities.

“Currently OceanaGold’s Didipio operation employs over 1,800 people, 98 percent of whom are Filipino Nationals from local and regional communities. The Didipio Mine’s economic contribution to the Philippines in the form of taxes and royalties is estimated at US$70 million over the past three and a half years, with considerably more to be contributed over the life of the mine,” the company’s statement said.

‘Very fair audit’

Meanwhile, Governor Carlos Padilla said the DENR’s recommendation for suspension of the Didipio mine operations in Nueva Vizcaya can be considered an “initial reason for our people to be jubilant.”

Padilla said the people will be very glad to learn about this development where the DENR through the leadership of Secretary Lopez has already spoken based on the recently conducted audit which “I think, is very fair.”

“We welcome this development and we look forward to the company’s eventual non-renewal of its operations by 2019,” Padilla said.

In March, the company was approved of its five-year extension of its exploration period under its FTAA by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) allowing the company to resume exploration activities at the mine until it expires in 2021.

Due to civil society groups’ allegations that OceanaGold’s exploration program poses a danger to the agricultural lands and the surrounding areas, Padilla has requested Secretary Lopez to review the company’s exploration activities as well as its operations.

In response, Lopez immediately sent two teams, the first one to investigate the implementation of their newly acquired exploration permit and the second one to audit the Didipio mine operations under the new administration’s policy on mining. TNF

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