Pacific Rim/OceanaGold

The long overdue breakup: Nueva Vizcaya and Oceanagold

By John Aaron Mark Macaraeg - BULALAT

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya — Ronald Pumihic sat on a tent with his daughter on his lap as he watched the barangay police inspect a van entering their community. In some days, Pumihic himself would join a team manning the checkpoint. They bar the entry of supplies for Oceanagold, an Australian-Canadian gold mining company, that he, together with the rest of the community, desperately wants out.

The barricade was set up July 2, following the expiration of Oceanagold’s Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), a license needed for a mining company to operate, on June 20. Despite the provincial government of Nueva Ecija’s restraining order, Oceanagold has pushed through with its operations.

Pumihic’s organization, Didipio Earth Saver’s Movement Association (Desama), is one of those at the forefront of the barricade. His very household experienced the negative impacts of large-scale mining.

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Oceanagold’s wealth is misery for Kasibu farmers

“We could say that Oceanagold really crippled our livelihood.”

By John Aaron Mark Makaraeg : BULALAT

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya — Ernesto Palpag, 50 years old, used to harvest about 40 sacks of rice every cropping. He could always catch dalag and eels in a nearby river. Every morning, fresh air coming down from the mountain greeted him.

From time to time, he would join his neighbors in small-scale mining for extra income. The other people in the village also enjoyed freshly harvested sweet potatoes, bananas, citrus, and many other fruits and root crops.

Gone were those days. The farmer now laments how the village of Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya has been transformed by large-scale mining.

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REPORT: Golden opportunities for profits, corporate plunder for OceanaGold Corporation

Report by IBON International

report IBON international"Towards curbing OceanaGold’s dirty operations in El Salvador and the Philippines, efforts of people’s organisations, communities, environmental advocates as well as international civil society continue to be essential. Community-level organisations and groups play an essential role in voicing out resistance. In Cabanas in El Salvador, the grassroots media group Radio Victoria has been broadcasting about people’s issues – including the destructive impacts of big mining, as well as the Pacific Rim/OceanaGold ISDS case. Radio Victoria staff have received death threats as a result of their work. Broader movements such as the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador (also known as La Mesa) are also active to protect water rights and to counter corporate mining in the country. Salvadoran campaigns continue towards demanding justice for murdered environment defenders and activists. In the Philippines, community organisations include the Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa, Inc. (SAPAKKMMI, Rights Organisation of Indigenous Farmers and Workers) and the Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo-Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK, Alliance of United Novo-Vizcayanos for the Environment). They are fundamental in building resistance: in 2016, a communityled barricade through SAPAKKMMI and DESAMA (Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association) led OceanaGold to pull out its expansive drilling operations and equipment in the area of Sitio Camgat in Didipio.

Led by La Mesa, fact-finding missions have been held in Cabanas in El Salvador to take stock of the effects of corporate mining activities. Various solidarity and investigative missions have also been held in Didipio in the Philippines, for instance in 2011, 2014 and 2015. These have exposed the implications of OceanaGold operations to the grassroots, such as indigenous peoples’ and peasants’ communities."


From Mining to Water: 25 years of Community Solidarity and Organizing

by J. Alejandro Artiga-Purcell * - SHARE
Cabañas, El Salvador – This Saturday, in Victoria, Cabañas, over 900 people gathered in the blazing hot plaza to celebrate Radio Victoria and the Social Economic Development Association’s (ADES) 25th anniversary. The sister organizations hosted a joint community arts festival to mark two and a half decades of solidarity, support, and dedication to participatory community development, human rights and sustainability.
Traditional dance performance at the Community Arts Festival, Victoria, Cabañas (Photo by author).
Both organizations’ mandates originate in their struggle to repopulate the town of Santa Marta, Cabañas, at the height of the bloody civil war. Founded by community members on their return from Honduran refugee camps, ADES and Radio Victoria’s first challenge became building and maintaining the social and physical tools necessary for subsistence survival.

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Solidarity Statement to the People of El Salvador on the day of OceanGold's AGM

Melbourne, Australia - In May 2013, the Maritime Union of Australia took part in an International Fact Finding Mission to El Salvador.

The study group came from a broad group of countries and backgrounds to the most densely populated country in Central America and began with a two day seminar at the University of Central America. We met with various groups and members of the National Roundtable Against Metal Mining - La Mesa. 

El Salvador had not issued any mining permits since 2008 and we were made aware of the water crisis facing the country and the threats and assassinations against people and groups opposed to mining. 

We gave a guarantee we would give our solidarity and support to the people we met in El Salvador, that had been struggling to defend their environment and live dignified lives.

In September 2013 PacificRim, the company that had filed an Investor State Dispute Settlement case against El Salvador for $300m had been brought out by OceanaGold, an Australian Canadian company whose headquarters were in Melbourne. 

We arranged for Vidalina Morales of ADES from Cabañas in El Salvador who had been at the forefront in the fight against mining to visit Australia. Vidalina gave radio interviews and spoke to meetings all over Australia and at what was the first rally out front of OceanaGold’s office in Collins Street Melbourne. 

Since then we have held over 51 rallies outside their office. At every rally we name the courageous people whose blood was spilt in defence of their community.

Marcelo Rivera

Ramiro Rivera

Felicita Escheverria

Dora Alicia Recinos Soto and her unborn child

Jose Duran

These are not statistics but people whose names need to be heard by the people making decisions in their boardrooms of Collins Street.

Congratulations to El Salvador for their victory against this avaricious mining company but we are aware the damages awarded to them did not account for their costs in this case. We believe its treasonous for any country to hand over their sovereignty to a Washington tribunal of bankers.

To La Mesa and the groups that agitated for El Salvador’s 2017 legislation to ban mining we congratulate you. We will continue to give our solidarity and support to you until OceanaGold and its subsidiary companies leave El Salvador.

We can learn from you, that we can live without gold but we cannot live without water. 

Duterte's new warning to mining companies

By Robin Broad and John Cavanagh : Rappler

This year is a key time to act on OceanaGold’s reforestation scam and the other problems from mining, given that its current 25-year mining agreement expires in 2019

On April 9, President Duterte issued a warning to mining companies in a speech in Davao City: "I do not want to see bald mountains in the areas you have mined. I want to see trees as tall as me in 6 months. If I don't see any in the area you destroyed, consider your permit revoked."

These are bold and important words. The Philippines hosts dozens of major mining companies, many of them operating environmentally-destructive open-pit mines. Planting trees is a standard requirement in mining agreements. But, as suggested by President Duterte's warning, it is not one always taken seriously by mining companies.

A case in point is one of the Philippines' largest open pit mines: that of Australian-Canadian mining giant OceanaGold in the municipality of Didipio in Nueva Vizcaya. OceanaGold has been operating the Didipio mine since 2013. As we saw for ourselves in research trips there in 2013 and 2017, it has not met its reforestation requirements.

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