Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya—Members of the Multipartite Monitoring Team (MMT) here said OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI), which operates the Didipio gold-copper mine, is complying with mining laws and regulations in its area of operations.
Forester Constante Espiritu, Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) of Dupax town and team member, said the MMT conducted the assessment and evaluation of OGPI’s compliance with mining law and regulations in June this year and noted no serious and critical violations.
“In general, the MMT did not find any violation of OGPI within their area of operations,” Espiritu said, but lamented the refusal of barangay officials to allow them to conduct a water sampling activity in the Camgat-Surong river.
The water sampling is necessary to know the current quality of the river, as it is murky due to the small-scale mining activities near it, Espiritu added.
He said the MMT, in a request letter dated June 6, 2019, sought the permission of Didipio Barangay Captain Erenio Bobola and Barangay Kagawad Celia Bahag to accompany the team in the water sampling for laboratory analysis, but they were not allowed.
“They refused and told us that either we might be stoned by the anti-mining advocates there (or the) small scale miners living near the murky river,” Espiritu said.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau officials said the Camgat-Surong river is said to be the wastewater dumping area for small-scale miners near the gold-copper project of OceanaGold.
“Our small-scale miners blame OGPI for polluting the Camgat-Surong river, but the company is not involved in causing the water to be murky, instead it comes from the small-scale operations. Water sampling for laboratory test is the only way to check if the river is really polluted or not,” Espiritu said.
The MMT was created under the Mine Rehabilitation Fund Committee to monitor and oversee the compliance of OGPI on mining law regulations, among others.
Apart from Espiritu, MMT members who requested the water sampling activity were MGB representatives Emely Delmendo and Jose Delos Santos Jr., Charles Tomas of DENR-Quirino, religious sector representative Fr. Enrique Tiongson, Ben Guillermo of NGO Quirino, Giovaanie Taguinod of PENRO Nueva Vizcaya, Tito Tanguilig of PLGU Nueva Vizcaya, Joemel Sugue of LGU Quirino, Cristina Milton of LGU Kasibu, and OGPI representatives Manuel Ordonez Jr. and Mark Saclao.
Didipio Barangay Captain Ereneo Bobola is also a member of the MMT.