A Catholic bishop described as “heartbreaking” the government’s decision to allow OceanaGold Corp to resume its Didipio gold-copper mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya province.
Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao of Bayombong was quoted by CBCP News as saying that the “distressing” decision was made without proper public consultations.
“This news breaks our heart but it will never silence us to fight for our common home,” said Bishop Mangalinao. “We will also continue to speak until our voices will be heard,” he was quoted on CBCP News.
The government on Thursday confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte has renewed the mining firm’s contract for another 25 years, two years after the company stopped its operations.
In a statement released on July 14, OceanaGold said it was planning to restart its operations “as soon as possible,” with the milling of about 19 million tons of stockpiled ore.
The company aims to achieve full underground capacity within 12 months.
Once fully ramped up, the firm expects Didipio to produce approximately 10,000 ounces of gold and 1,000 tons of copper per month.
“We strongly decry this decision,” said Bishop Mangalinao, adding that the promised benefits “will never outweigh the destruction” caused by mining operations in the province.
“This government has once again favored interest and profit over the ill effects of mining on our ecology and the indigenous communities that were also divided because of this mining issue in our province,” he said.
The bishop assured that the Catholic diocese “will continue to fight for our common home.”
“We will continue to pray for the end of mining in our province,” he added. “We are and we will always be against mining.”