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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Controversy surrounds Didipio Mine

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“Since commencing commercial operations in 2013, the Didipio Mine has spent approximately P39.5 billion (US$790 million). That includes development expenditure for our host and neighboring communities, community investment projects, payments to national or local suppliers and contractors, government taxes and employee wages,” a statement by OceanaGold Philippines claimed.

Of this expenditure, 96 percent (P38.3 billion) was paid to employees, government, and businesses through salaries, taxes, and procurement while P1.2 billion was spent for community development, the statement further explained.

But Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos M. Padilla believes the gains of 25 years of mining in his province is nothing compared to the destruction it caused.

“Let us not forget the human rights violations committed against our brothers and sisters, the pollution of the rivers due to chemicals, and the drying up of pump wells where we get our drinking water,” Padilla said in a statement.

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The younger generation of Didipio residents disputed the governor’s point of view. In her Facebook page, Lenilee Ananayo, an employee of the company’s Community Relations Office, disagreed with the facts presented by Gov. Padilla.

Ananayo quoted a statement released by the local group Coalition of Communities for Sustainable Development, enumerating 20 points raised in response to the sentiments aired by anti-mining advocates like Gov. Padilla.

“The company has complied with all the regulations of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau. The company is also guided by globally accepted responsible mining principles. That is why MGB wrote a letter giving provisional permit to operate, which was not respected by the LGUs who opted to support an illegal blockade that crippled the Didipio mine,” Ananayo argued.

“The renewal of the FTAA of OceanaGold will certainly help boost economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic most specifically here in Didipio. When normal operation of the mine resumes, temporarily laid-off employees will be back to their jobs, not only Didipio locals but also employees from other places,” says Kimberly Guimbangan, a young entrepreneur who use to work with a contractor inside Didipio mine.

“Temporarily suspended projects will also resume, such as the road concreting as this will provide easier access down to Solano & Bambang, and also down to Quirino province. It will be a great relief for all specially for farmers so we can now transport our agricultural products easily,” Guimbangan added.

But the older generation of residents in Didipio prefer traditional living in their swidden farms and small-scale mines. Majority of the members of the group called Didipio Earth-Savers Multipurpose Association (DESAMA) and other groups against large-scale mining are older folks.

The election in May 2018 of Barangay Chairman Ireneo Bobbola, a traditional small-scale miner, turned the local government unit’s stand against the renewal of the FTAA.

Didipio’s potential economic value could be computed by multiplying the current metal prices and the measured and indicated reserves of the mine—1.38 million ounces of Gold, 2.85 million ounces of Silver and 170,000 tons of Copper, the sum of which has an estimated valued of US$3.45 billion.

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