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Nueva Vizcaya officials take ‘concrete steps’ vs mining firm

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Several provincial officials of Nueva Vizcaya province continue to stand up against a foreign mining firm, citing environmental and human rights issues the company allegedly neglected.

Board Member Flodemonte Gerdan, chairman of the Committee on Environment of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, said in a report the board will block the renewal of the expiring permit of the OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI).

Gerdan said board members vowed to vote against the endorsement of OGPI’s permit, which is set to expire in 2019.

“This mining company has shown bad faith in its dealings with our province, and must no longer be allowed to continue operating for all the sufferings it has brought to our people,” Gerdan told Inquirer’s Melvin Gascon. (READ: Nueva Vizcaya board blocks Aussie mine firm’s bid to renew expiring permit.)

The OGPI operates an open pit mine in Didipio village in Kasibu town. They are producing tons of copper and gold since it obtained its permit in 1994.

Several anti-mining groups in the province had sought for help from local officials on the alleged violations of the mining firm.


‘Concrete steps’

In an interview on Tuesday, March 6, provincial Governor Carlos Padilla said he supported the move of the provincial board to block the renewal of OGPI’s.

“I even support that, and we are now doing something in order to concretize our position to block [mining]. Hindi lang puro salita, pero we will support it with strong actions, and concrete support,” Padilla said.

He said the board’s latest action is a “proof” that the officials are walking their talks.

He also laud several groups help in the local government’s efforts to restrict mining in the province, including the Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK).

“It’s not just the [provincial local government unit], but it is the concerted effort with the private sector, especially with the people’s organization, mga concerned groups.

Padilla also earlier testified before El Salvador Congress the supposed risks of metallic mining in the environment.

In his testimony, the governor called OGPI’s mining operation as “environmental disaster,” accusing 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. Northernforum.net

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