Didipio Mine engages with communities to improve our management of key issues and impacts, identify opportunities, inform our business strategy and activities, collaboratively develop social investment programs and respond to concerns or issues relating to our business activities.
Didipio works with 11 communities adjacent to the mine. These include the host community of Didipio and 10 surrounding communities, a total of more than 15,000 residents. Three downstream communities are in the municipality of Cabarroguis in the province of Quirino, and seven upstream communities are in the municipality of Kasibu in the province of Nueva Vizcaya.
We regularly visit communities and engage with the community councils and residents. Building strong relationships and dialogue with host and adjacent communities is vital to the way we operate.
Social and infrastructure investment
From 2013- 2017, the Didipio operation invested approximately PhP926 million (US$18.52 million) in projects across the eleven host and adjacent communities. PhP370 million (US$7.4 million) is invested under the Social Development Management Program (SDMP) and PhP556 million (US$11.12 million) in additional community development programs.
In 2015, Didipio worked with communities to establish a forum for collaboration and decision-making across all social investment programs. The forum has six pillars – Education, Environment, Health, Business Development, Training and Infrastructure – and each pillar is governed by a steering committee of community leaders and government agencies. A Central Steering Committee composed of the Didipio mayor, the community captain and the General Manager of the Didipio Mine help coordinate initiatives across the pillars.
Social Development Management Program
Philippines Mining Law requires all operating mines invest 1.5% of their annual operating costs in a Social Development and Management Program (SDMP). At Didipio we commenced our SDMP in 2013 to provide funds for the sustained improvement of living standards of our host and adjacent communities. The SDMP requires investment in the specific areas of social services and infrastructure, communications and training.
Memorandums of Agreement (MOA)
Since the early 1990s, companies responsible for exploration and development at Didipio have made agreements with host and adjacent communities to invest in social infrastructure and services. Many of these commitments were executed at the time the agreement was made, while others were delayed or scheduled to be delivered after the commencement of mining operations.
We continue to honor these commitments which include infrastructure projects such as roads, schools, a medical facility, and other initiatives focused on agricultural development, skills building and small business development.
Recently-delivered projects include:
- The newly-constructed 10-bed Didipio Family Health Centre turned over to the community in 2018. The Health Centre will provide health services to the community upon completion of requirements set forth by the Department of Health.
- Construction a three-story senior high school building for the Eastern Nueva Vizcaya National High School, which we turned over to the Department of Education in 2017, and where more than more than 600 students are currently enrolled.
- More than 100kms of roads to provide communities easier access to market and the business districts.
Indigenous Rights and Free Prior and Informed Consent
The Philippines is culturally diverse with more than 100 identified ethno-linguistic groups. The Philippines National Government passed the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act in October 1997, establishing formal processes for recognizing the right to customary land tenure and self-governance.
In 1996, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) awarded the Bugkalot tribes of Nueva Vizcaya a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim. In 2002, the DENR certified that the Barangay of Didipio was not included in the Certificate. While Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) was not required, we did obtain favourable endorsement for the mine from the Didipio community in 2002, as part of our Environmental Compliance Certificate process.
The area around the Didipio mine has been home to different groups over time including the Ilongot, the Ifugao, and the Bugkalot, and we engage with them all. We recognize and respect the processes established in the Philippines for the determination and recognition of the rights of communities, including that of Indigenous Peoples, and comply with all requirements.
Surface Rights Acquisition
In accordance with the provisions of the Philippines Mining Act, OceanaGold commenced a surface rights acquisition program in 2005 to negotiate and enter into agreements with landowners and occupants within the Didipio Project area.
The program provided a compensation and benefits package with beyond what was required by law, including a relocation benefit. Under this program, various individuals voluntarily executed agreements with the Company and more than 500 agreements were in place by July 2008. Most residents remained in the local area.
In accordance with the Mining Act rules and regulations, proceedings were initiated with a Panel of Arbitrators in 2006 for a small number of residents where no agreement could be reached with the company. Discussions continued independent of the legal proceedings and agreements were ultimately amicably concluded with these residents prior to the commencement of commercial production in 2013.
We have received complaints from some community members regarding surface rights acquisition and other land related issues. Didipio has an established complaints process for community members to discuss and seek a collective resolution of these concerns. Where the company and the complainant are not able to resolve the issue, the process is moved to a Panel of Arbitrators (comprising Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region Two) as set out in the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
The complaints process was formalized in 2012 and is continuously reviewed and updated as required. Since then we have received 95 complaints related to land. 61 of those complaints have been resolved, 18 remain open and are still under investigation and 16 have been elevated to the Panel of Arbitrators. This includes complaints received prior to 2012.
Agriculture has been, and continues to be, an important livelihood for local families, and Didipio has ongoing agricultural initiatives in our 11 host and adjacent communities in Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya. These include:
- Collaboration with the Department of Agriculture on strengthening traditional and organic farming practices.
- Supporting the organization of 13 agricultural cooperatives (some of whom provide food to Didipio’s mining camp).
- Partnerships with Grameen Australia Philippines and local farmers to promote organic farming and with Business for Development and local farmers to improve market opportunities for coffee.
There have been allegations the mine has negatively impacted agriculture, especially citrus. Data from the Philippines Statistics Authority shows that production of corn and palay (rice at the stage prior to husking) has increased from 2011 to 2016 in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.
Agricultural Research on Citrus Production of the Municipality of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya prior 2008 to 2016, an independent study conducted by the Municipal Agricultural Office of the Municipality of Kasibu, outlines a decline in citrus production beginning in 2011 due to pest and disease infestation resulting in low yields. Most of the remaining citrus plantations in the area are located more than eight kilometres upstream from the Didipio mine in Barangays of Malabing, Wangal, Tadji and Binogawan.
In 2015, we commissioned an entomologist from the University of the Philippines to conduct and onsite investigation at local citrus farms. The report validated that the citrus farms were affected by the citrus tristeza virus that had spread from other affected citrus farms in southern Luzon. This research included a forum to share methods for preventing further spread of the pest and disease infestation and production and post-harvest techniques.
We continue to strengthen our focus on agriculture and support to non-mining livelihoods as a key part of Didipio’s long-term closure strategy.
Livelihoods and measuring social impacts and change
OceanaGold is committed to improving our understanding of how our operations generate change and impact at the local, regional and national levels. At Didipio, this includes the social outcomes and tangible benefits delivered by the SDMP and other community programs, the livelihood and socio-economic impacts related to our operations and impacts on land, water and biodiversity.
Didipio is currently reviewing the household studies and livelihood baselines implemented during the exploration, project development and operational phases of the mine. We are working with external experts and in collaboration with communities and government to better-understand how the mining operation has contributed to change over time, the community’s perceptions and concerns, and to identify improvements – including the economic standing and welfare of local communities.
The development of Didipio from an exploration project to an operating mine occurred over 19 years. We take the allegations against OceanaGold and previous owners in relation to mine development activities seriously.
We respect human rights at all our operations, and OceanaGold has a framework of policies and commitments for how we all operate. This includes a commitment to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. We periodically review the alignment of our operations and activities with our policies.
In 2018, we commenced a two-year effort to enhance Human Rights respect and performance in the business, including training for executive leadership, our Board, management teams and staff, and a human rights due diligence process conducted across our global operations. We are implementing this due diligence process in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Complaints and grievances
The Didipio Mine regularly engages with local communities to collaborate on social development initiatives, address community questions and concerns about our operations, and listen to feedback on how to improve our performance.
The complaints process was formalized in 2012 and is continuously reviewed and updated as required. Since then Didipio has received 110 grievances, of which 75 have been resolved and closed, 19 are the subject on ongoing investigation, and 16 have been elevated to a Panel of Arbitrators comprising Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region Two. This includes complaints received prior to 2012.
We have regular community meetings, and a community-based office through which community members can raise concerns and be provided feedback. We also have a confidential whistle-blower hotline service, managed by Deloitte, through which anyone can report concerns relating to non-compliance with our corporate Code of Conduct.