Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. is a subsidiary of the Australian OceanaGold Corporation whose shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, New Zealand Stock Exchange and Australian Stock Exchange. The company is a significant Pacific Rim gold producer, with a diverse portfolio of operating, development and exploration assets. Assets are located on the South Island of New Zealand and the Philippines, with a corporate office based in Melbourne, Australia. Oceanagold (Philippines), Inc. engages in the exploration, development, operation, and production of gold and other minerals and is chaired by Jose Leviste, Jr.
In 1994, the government issued the first Financial Technical Assistance Agreement to Climax Arimco Mining Corporation. Then in 2005, OceanaGold Philippines was granted a Declaration of Mining Feasibility by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The FTAA allows OceanaGold Philippines to go full-scale commercial production and utilization of gold, copper, nickel, chromite, lead, zinc and other minerals except for cement raw materials, marble, granite, sand and gravel and construction aggregates.
A year later, the company acquired the Didipio Gold and Copper project through Climax Mining merger in 2006. The Didipio Gold and Copper project was considered as the largest gold and copper mining project in the Baguio area.
The original operational plan comprised of four years of open cut mining, and 11 years of subsequent underground sub-level caving operations. However, by the end of 2008, OceanaGold Philippines announced that it has placed the Didipio Gold Copper project on care and maintenance as a result of the continuing weakness in the global environment and challenging financial markets for mineral development.
In 2009, the company plans to undertake a project review to examine scope and capital requirements for the project.
Human rights violation
OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. has been accused of violating human rights which stemmed from the demolition of the houses of the Indigenous People in its mining site Didipio, Kasibu Village, Nueva Vizcaya. The company allegedly demolished 29 houses in the village without any writ or special order of demolition from the courts, were unaccompanied by sheriffs, and without just compensation.
The Commission on Human Rights cited in its report the company violated the following: the right to adequate housing and property rights’; right to freedom of movement, the ‘right not to be subjected to arbitrary interference; ‘the right to security of persons’; and ‘the right of the indigenous community to manifest their culture and identity.
However, OceanaGold Philippines denied all allegations saying that the company did offer hefty offers for those who were interested in selling their lots. The offer included house and lot on the relocation site and P200,000 cash remuneration. On top of the illegal demolition, residents further complained that they are being restricted in some areas accessible only to the staff of the mining company. In defense, OceanaGold cited the security fence they constructed to protect the children when heavy equipments came by. With all the violations OceanaGold has committed, the CHR is urging President Benigno Aquino to cancel the company’s rights to the mining project.
Aside from violation on human rights, OceanaGold Philippines also faced tax evasion accusations. Governor Luisa Cuaresma cited the company’s non-payment of the P28 million quarry tax to the local government. The company refuted the tax issue saying the company is not bound to pay quarry tax based on the FTAA. In retaliation, the company filed graft and corruption charges against Cuaresma before the Office of the Ombudsman.
- OceanaGold Appoints Chairman, OceanaGold (Philippines), Inc.
- GMA News TV: Oceana Gold says it didn't commit human rights violation
- Indigenous group acks call to revoke mining deal in Vizacaya
- Philippine rights body wants OceanaGold deal revoked