Gold mining suspended; group asks for return of land to IPs
MANILA, Philippines — An environmental group on Wednesday challenged the administration to return the lands of indigenous peoples (IPs) after OceanaGold Corp. suspended production at its gold and copper mine in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya.
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment called the suspension a “hard-fought victory” for the residents.
“We challenge the Duterte administration to follow suit by rejecting OceanaGold’s contract renewal with finality and returning the mineralized lands to the indigenous communities who rightfully own the land,” the group’s national coordinator Leon Dulce said.
Dulce said the lapse of OceanaGold’s financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) in June meant that the tenement area should have been returned to the government, which he said is obliged to return the land to the indigenous Tuwali-Ifugao communities.
OceanaGold cut its full-year output guidance to 460,000 to 480,000 ounces of gold and 10,000 to 11,000 tons of copper, and assumed no further production or sales for the remainder of the year at Didipio.
It had sought renewal of its 25-year operating license for Didipio last year, but the local government wants the mine shut down due to environmental concerns.
OceanaGold president and CEO Mick Wilkes said the company “had no choice but to temporarily suspend production at Didipio,” after the “uncertain” outcome of its appeal for a court injunction last month, and “ongoing” efforts to finalize the renewal of its FTAA. —With a report from the wires