BAGUIO CITY: Tribal folk from Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao picketed the gates of the open pit mining site of Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. (OGPI) in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya calling for the company’s expulsion from the Philippines and El Salvador.
Led by SAPAKKMMI Didipio, Amianan Salakniban, Green Youth, Ifugao Peasant Movement, TIMEQ–Quirino and Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo-Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK), the protesters marched along Sitio Boulevard to the gates of OceanaGold chanting the mining giant’s violations to the indigenous villages and their environment.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recommended the suspension of Oceana Gold after an industry-wide audit in August.
“We are here to express our calls to the company and to the community of Didipio that this fight is not just our fight. This is a fight of all the people of the world against corporate greed,” En Ramel of ANNVIK said.
The international protest action was held in coordination with anti-mining groups from the Philippines, El Salvador, Canada, the US and Australia, following the scheduled verdict of the World Bank tribunal on the case of Pacific Rim/OceanaGold vs. El Salvador this month.
The environmentalist group Kalikasan said that for seven years, an El Salvadoran social movement has been fighting to stop Pacific Rim (renamed OceanaGold) mining corporation from opening a gold mine in Cabañas, El Salvador, including their battle against a $300 million lawsuit for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
OceanaGold used unjust investment laws under pro-corporate trade agreements to sue El Salvador in 2009 for not approving its mining permit, Kalikasan added.
Through similar actions worldwide, the anti-mining groups demand that the World Bank immediately release a favorable decision that will vindicate the people of El Salvador and allow their government to recover all legal expenses, Kalikasan said.
They also call for OceanaGold to immediately discontinue all of its operations in El Salvador.
Meanwhile, OceanaGold’s share price was reported hammered down at 19 percent after its suspension was recommended. The mines produce 40 percent of the multi-national mining company’s gold and 30 percent of its copper.