BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: Australian miner OceanaGold said on Tuesday it contributed more than P3.2 billion to the Philippine economy in its four years of operation in the mineral-rich Didipio Village in the upland town of Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya.
OceanaGold officials said this contribution was in the form of local and national taxes paid, its social development management program (SDMP), and other major expenditures for their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Of this amount, P806.65 million were withholding taxes paid to the government, P777.03 million were payroll taxes, P737.45 million were excise taxes, P637.99 million went to community development, and P267.47 million were local taxes and fees.
Ramoncito Gozar, OceanaGold senior vice president for communications and external affairs, said the state-sanctioned operation of the Didipio gold and copper project carries with it the development of the host community and the impacted surrounding villages.
He said this is also true in other countries where OceanaGold operates, such as in the Philippines, the United States, and New Zealand.
“Our license to operate carries a responsibility to contribute to the development of the countries in which we operate and to ensure that we leave a positive economic and social legacy,” Gozar said.
He explained that the core business of their operations creates jobs, provides infrastructures and purchases goods and services from local providers.
“The resources that we develop create a value chain that includes exploration, development extraction, processing, transportation, marketing and logistics through which we generate economic value in national and international markets,” Gozar said.
He said that of their resources, an estimated 57 percent go to local suppliers, 11 percent to national suppliers and 32 percent to international suppliers.
David Way, OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI) general manager, said the contribution to the Philippine economy also included the payments and expenditures incurred from 2013, when the company started commercial operation, to 2016.
‘We Care’ program
Way, however, said that long before OGPI commenced full operation of its Didipio Gold and Copper Project in 2013, there have been social development programs that were conducted by the company that benefited residents of Didipio and the surrounding villages.
“Our ‘We Care’ program came into existence as a result of an earlier memorandum of agreement signed among the host village and 11 surrounding communities for the SDMP funds utilization from the company,” Way said.
He said that to ensure a working partnership, the “We Care” program is being spearheaded by a steering committee with representation from the company, the municipal government of Kasibu Town and the Barangay (Village) Didipio council.
He explained that the program under the SDMP has six components: environment, education, promotion of socio-cultural values, health, employment, business development and infrastructure.
In June, Way said, OGPI turned over a P43 million three-story senior high school building with complete laboratory equipment, to the Eastern Nueva Vizcaya National High School campus in Didipio Village to support the newly implemented K to 12 education program of the government.
As an additional support to the Department of Education in Region 2, the company donated P10-million financial assistance for the K to 12 curriculum implementation in at least 16 schools in Nueva Vizcaya and 18 schools in Quirino Province.
“We also allotted a total of P13.2 million for scholarships and subsidized salaries of 60 teachers,” Way said.
Way added there were at least 10 funded cooperatives of micro and small enterprises, some of which are agriculture-based, which were provided with technical assistance.
In 2011, OceanaGold also helped establish Didipio Community Development Corp. (DiCorp) to assist the host village in creating a sustainable partnership among locals engaged in business.
DiCorp is a community-based business enterprise which is composed of about 400 Didipio residents and which employs around 400 local workers in its food catering for the Didipio mine.
Way said DiCorp also maintains a 22-kilometer service road developed by the mining firm from Dibibi, Cabarroguis, Quirino Province to the Didipio mine site.
He said the community enterprise has generated more than P848 million in gross revenues covering the 2011-2016 long-term Didipio Operation, making the enterprise a top Nueva Vizcaya taxpayer next to OceanaGold.
The company has also developed and maintains some 107 kilometers of road network, which he said has transformed the village of Didipio into a bustling village with a growing population, now with around 3,000 residents from a small village previously with less than 100 residents.
“The direct employment of locals in road maintenance is a great advantage for residents who are always given top priority, including women who are assigned to manage road traffic,” he added.
Under the National Greening Program of the government, OceanaGold Sustainable Agroforestry Inc., the mining firm’s agro-forestry arm, has planted more than a million trees in 1,300 hectares of land and donated more than 500,000 seedlings.