KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya: The shutdown order by the local officials here against an Asia-Pacific mine firm has been lifted after it has complied with local government requirements and agreements.
Mayor Chito Bumolo said the closure order was lifted earlier this week giving way to the resumption of OceanaGold Corp.’s Didipio Mine operations.
”The closure order is now lifted. Activities are back to normal. We have already issued the clearances and mayor’s permit after OceanaGold complied with all the requirements and terms agreed upon with the villagers,” Bumolo said.
Earlier, Bumolo told media men in a press conference here that the closure order was to be issued on July 10 for the company’s failure to comply with local government-set requirements on their operations in Didipio village here.
However, this was moved to July 12 giving time for the company to address the complaints as well as fulfill the terms set with the community “and yet the company was a bit slow to react enough reason for us to push through with the order,” Bumolo said.
Bumolo said OceanaGold failed to seek and renew its business permit and clearance as well as failed to pay municipal taxes.
”It failed to fulfill its promises set in the memorandum of agreement with the local government unit particularly with the village where its mining operation is held,” Bumolo said.
Other issues raised by Bumolo were the company’s alleged failure to address the human rights violations complaint filed against the security agency contracted by the company.
Bumolo said one of the most important issues is that of the long promised priority employment opportunities to local residents.
”Most employees are not from the province of Nueva Vizcaya and only a few locals from Kasibu are employed,” Bumolo said.
In 1988, OceanaGold sought the needed requirements from the local government of Kasibu for their application permits to the national government.
”Now, the company seem to put into oblivion its obligations to the local government and worst, it has stopped dealing with the local government of Kasibu,” Bumolo said.
Bumolo said he doesn’t care if the company is complying with their obligations to the province ofQuirino.
”But they should remember that Didipio is part of Kasibu and not of Quirino,” Bumolo said refuting claims that it is part of Quirino province.
With disputed land boundaries, the Didipio Mine lies along the mountain areas of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya.
Meanwhile, Brennan Lang, OceanGold’s Didipio Mine general manager, reported that the company has now more than 1,700 employees and contractors, 98 percent of which are Filipinos and over 50 percent of its operations workforce are from local communities.
Brennan said OceanaGold also supports a wide array of development programs in the communities where it operates. For 2012, a total of P35 million already spent on community projects mostly in the town of Kasibu.
Lang said this is besides numerous contracts awarded for minor constructions, food purchases, educational support programs, health services and facilities, and sanitary landfill construction.
He said the company has spent $900,000 to implement capital infrastructure projects such as construction, improvement or upgrade of main access road, drainage and school buildings.
With a total budget of P110.2 million for various community projects, P36 million for 2013 to date provided for further community development initiatives.
Lang said the company welcomes all concerns from local stakeholders through their grievance management program—a transparent and equitable approach addressing community concerns—establishing satellite offices in the capital towns of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino to reach out to stakeholders and promote open communication with the company.
“We believe that successful advancement of the Didipio Mine to where it is today speaks very clearly of the acceptance and encouragement we are receiving in building the foundation for growth for the people of the province of Nueva Vizcaya,” Lang said.
In May, the company declared commencement of commercial production at its Didipio copper-gold project in Nueva Vizcaya.
OceanaGold is a significant Asia Pacific gold producer with projects located on the South Island of New Zealand and in the Philippines. Its assets encompass New Zealand’s largest gold mining operation at the Macraes goldfield in Otago, which is made up of the Macraes Open Pit and the Frasers Underground mines.
Additionally on the west coast of the South Island, the company operates the Reefton Open Pit mine.
The company’s Didipio Project in Northern Luzon is expected to produce 100,000 ounces of gold and 14,000 tons of copper per year on average over an estimated 16-year mine life.