Bishop decries resumption of OceanaGold mine operations
Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao of Bayombong. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DIOCESE OF BAYOMBONG
By Mariel Celine L. Serquiña
July 16, 2021
Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya
A Catholic bishop described as ‘heartbreaking’ the government’s decision to allow Australian-Canadian miner OceanaGold Corp to resume its Didipio gold-copper mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya.
Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao of Bayombong said Friday 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,” Mangalinao said. “We will also continue to speak until our voices will be heard.”
Malacañang on Thursday confirmed that President Duterte has renewed the mining firm’s contract for another 25 years, two year after the company halted its operation due to a dispute with the local government.
In a statement released July 14, OceanaGold said it was planning to restart its operations “as soon as possible”, initially with the milling of stockpiled ore of about 19 million tonnes.
It 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 tonnes of copper per month.
“We strongly decry this decision,” Mangalinao said.
According to him, 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 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.”
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