by Francis C. Hidalgo Jr.
Monday, January 24, 2011
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: Despite being recently found by the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) to have allegedly committed human rights violations, an Australian mining company is set to conduct large-scale commercial operations in Nueva Vizcaya province by 2013.
OceanaGold Philippines Inc. has opposed the CHR’s findings—which affirmed the complaints of the residents of Didipio village in the province’s Kasibu town, where the firm’s multibillion-peso mining venture is based—saying that they are committed to uphold the human rights of the community and comply with all the laws.
Mick Wilkes, chief executive officer of the Melbourne-based Ocean Gold Corp. (OGC)—OGPI’s parent company—said that they continue “to operate [in the province] in accordance with the Philippine Mining Act in partnership with the national government and [other] stakeholders.”
According to the mining executive, OGPI “is fully committed to the development of the Didipio project. The company continues to maintain its obligations under the FTAA [Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement].”
“With . . . the processing plant now underway . . . the project is [now] fully financed [and has the] necessary permits to achieve commercial production [by] 2013,” he said.
OceanaGold, through the FTAA made during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos, was contracted by the national government to undertake the $320-million Didipio gold-copper project.
The venture was the first large-scale mining project approved in the country under the revitalized Mining Act of 1995.
The project’s development into full commercial operations was one of the flagship projects of the Ramos government in its efforts to revive the country’s moribund mining industry.
Former President and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of the Second District of Pampanga, who authored the 1995 Mining Act as a senator, affirmed OGPI’s agreement with the national government for the full-scale development of the Didipio project, provided that it adheres to the government’s thrust of sustainable mining.