TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla was invited to talk before the Committee on the Environment and Climate Change of the El Salvador on the eve before a historic vote to ban metallic mining the Central American country.
Padilla told Forum on Friday, March 31, that the legislature had voted to pass the law banning all metal mining projects in a bid to protect the country’s environment and natural resources.
In a press statement on Thursday, March 30, the El Salvador presidential communications said Padilla and President Sánchez Cerén to talk on the issue on the serious risk of mining in the Philippines.
“His visit was to verify what we have been saying since 2009. We have not granted permits for exploration or mining of metal. We never did and he is an acknowledgment that we did things right,” Lina Pohl, the country’s minister on environment and natural resources, said.
Padilla had taken for example the OceanaGold, an Australian mining company operating in Didipio village in Kasibu town in Nueva Vizcaya, which he called as an “environmental disaster.”
OceanaGold had also sought a permit to operate in El Salvador when it acquired a local mining in 2013, but was denied due to environmental risks.
OceanaGold and the local mining then sued El Salvador government for US $250 million claim before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an international tribunal under the World Bank.
In October 2016, the ICSID, however, resolved to dismiss the case as it has no merits.
‘Responsible mining a disaster’
In his talk before the public and legislative forums, Padilla said the plight of mining in the Philippines should not be judged by words but by reality.
“The reality of OceanaGold’s so-called ‘responsible mining’ in the Philippines has been an environmental disaster. Judge it by the reality of its mining operations in my country not by its words or promises,” Padilla said, as quoted by Mining Watch Canada, a non-government organization focused on “ensuring that mineral development practices are consistent with the goals of sustainable communities and ecological health.”
Padilla accused OceanaGold of destroying 975 acres of grasslands, forests and species habitats and incited strife, theft and respiratory problems in neighboring communities.
He said the mining company has put “great risk” at the watersheds in Nueva Vizcaya and had also exhausted wells and rice irrigations.
In February, environment secretary announced the suspension of OceanaGold due to violations. The company appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte. –Northernforum.net