Vizcaya says no to contract extension of mining firm
MANILA, Philippines — Arguing that lands acquired by the mining firm OceanaGold Philippines Inc. at Kasibu town were designated for agriculture and not mining, the Nueva Vizcaya provincial board said in a resolution that it would no longer entertain appeals to extend its financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) that lapsed on June 20.
The resolution was transmitted on June 17 to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu by Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Carlos Padilla.
On June 20, groups opposed to OceanaGold’s mining operations staged a rally at the provincial capitol to support the provincial government’s antimine stance.
The FTAA is a 25-year agreement that allowed OceanaGold to develop and exploit gold reserves in its 975-hectare mine area. The agreement is renewable for another 25 years.
Citing a 2017 position paper on environmental justice drawn up by the provincial government, the board said OceanaGold acquired agricultural lands but had not converted these for industrial and mining use.
The board also said OceanaGold had been audited along with 27 other big mines, which were suspended or closed by Cimatu’s predecessor, Gina Lopez.
The provincial government said it was enforcing a Malacañang order issued in 2012 that instituted reforms in the mining sector.
Under the order, no new mineral agreements would be entered into until legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms would have taken effect.
But the order said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources might “continue to grant and issue exploration permits under existing laws, rules and guidelines … and also review existing mining contracts and agreements for possible renegotiation” but
this must be “mutually acceptable to the government and the mining contractor.” —Vincent Cabreza
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