Court won’t stop Nueva Vizcaya from restraining OceanaGold operations

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A Nueva Vizcaya court has denied the plea of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., (OGPI) for an injunction against the provincial government’s orders to stop its gold and copper mining operations following the expiration of its license.

In a recent 10-page resolution, Bayombong Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 30 Judge Paul Attolba, Jr., held that the mining firm had “not… clearly proven at this point its clear and unmistakable right to be protected.”

This was because of the expiration of OceanaGold’s 25-year financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) on June 20.

“As such, the right from which OGPI derives its authority to conduct mining operations ceases to exist,” read the resolution.

OceanaGold argued that Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Acting Director Wilfredo Moncano expressed “its position” to permit the firm to continue operations pending the approval of its application for the renewal of the FTAA.

The court, however, pointed out that the wording of Moncano’s letter was “merely recommendatory in nature” and still subject to the approval of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu or President Rodrigo Duterte.

“There is no sufficient evidence on record to support that OGPI is indeed authorized to continue mining operations pending the renewal by the President of the FTAA which would establish an unmistakable right warranting the issuance of an injunctive relief,” the court said.

The petition challenged Governor Carlos Padilla’s June 25 order for the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), the Philippine National Office (PNP) and the governments of Kasibu municipality and Barangay Didipio to restrain any operations by OceanaGold.

This led to the ongoing blockade of OceanaGold’s supply vehicles and trucks carrying copper concentrate for shipping. The company only recently stopped its operations after its remaining mining supplies were depleted.

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