Didipio Gold and Copper mine, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines

Aggressive mining development in the Philippines: the Didipio Gold and Copper mine, owned by OceanaGold Corporation, has caused large human rights violations and environmental destruction.

The Oceana Gold and Copper mine, located in Barangay Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, was the first mining project awarded a Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) by the Philippine government, allowing the company to operate large-scale mining explorations, 100% owned by foreign investor OceanaGold Corporation [1]. The mine is located in an area in which the majority of people are indigenous. [3]. It has become a much contested site due to large complaints over human rights violations as well as environmental destruction [2;3;4]. The company has been alleged to have obtained a Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of affected communities by creating a ‘council of elders’ comprised by people that either did not belong to the affected communities, or received rewards in exchange for their consent [5]. Awarded with the FTAA in the 1990s, the company started project implementation since 2000. Formal petitions against the FTAA were lodged in 2006 but dismissed [3]. On October 2, 2009, it was reported that the company forcefully evicted local villagers without prior consent, bulldozed and burned 187 houses, assisted by private security forces, using teargas and violence against villagers and neighbors who resisted leaving [3]. In relation to the tension surrounding the mine, Kalikasan reported that in December 2012, two opponents of large-scale mining; both members of the Didipio Earthsavers’ Multipurpose Association (DESAMA), were killed by unidentified assailants in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya [8]. Cheryl Ananayo, was shot dead along with her cousin-in-law Randy Nabayay as they were riding to Didipio at 6:00PM on December 7, 2012. DESAMA is a people’s organization opposed to the ongoing implementation of the 17,626-hectare Didipio gold-copper project owned by Australian large-scale miner OceanaGold Corporation. Nabayay was a small-scale miner who had differences with OceanaGold over his property. Ananayo was with her 4 year-old child and carrying her 3 month-old baby, both unharmed.[8]. The Commission for Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines urged the government to withdraw the FTAA due to large evidences of rights abuses [2;3]. However, the government apparently sided with the company, which claimed to do “ethical, responsible, and sustainable mining” [2]. Construction was completed in 2012 and commercial production started on April 1, 2013 [1]. Since production started, increasing contamination of rivers by heavy metals has been recorded, significantly exceeding the standard safety limits, thus, strongly affecting the environment and the livelihood of local communities [4]. People living next to the river, as well as downstream, are concerned about declining fish stock and irrigation of nearby agricultural fields [4]. Increasing noise and air pollution adds to the situation, while the company was further accused of avoiding tax payments [6]. Nowadays, petitions and protests against the Didipio mine, targeting the company and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issuing the permits, go on. On the national level, the OceanaGold mine is one of many mines, causing severe tensions between corporate interests in search of new commodity frontiers and indigenous communities, aiming to preserve their identities, opposing these trends which they call “development aggression” [5]. ***** This text has been updated on October 1, 2016. A previous version misstated that the mine was located on ancestral Bugkalots lands. Indeed, the area has been inhabited by many indigenous people to whom the land has been a crucial part of their livelihoods and identity. However, they came originally from other places for which reason they cannot formally claim ancestral domain over Dipdio. Information retrieved from: [3]
Basic Data
NameDidipio Gold and Copper mine, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
ProvinceNueva Vizcaya and Quirino, Luzon
SiteBarangay Didipio, 270km North of Manila
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
The mining permission is held under a Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA). The FTAA was first obtained by Climax Arimco Mining Corporation June 24, 1994, which later on, after mergers with other companies, became Oceana Gold Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of Australian OceanaGold Corporation [1; 3]. Under the FTAA, the company can be 100% owned by a foreign company, which further has a period of up to 5 years to recover all pre-operation expenses. Afterwards, the government is entitled to 60% of net revenues [1]. OceanaGold Corporation is the first company that received such an FTAA agreement.
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Project Area (in hectares)12,900
Level of Investment (in USD)320,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationat least 200 households
Start Date24/06/1994
Company Names or State EnterprisesClimax Arimco Mining Corporation (CAMC) from Philippines - mining
Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. from Australia - mining, gold, copper
Oceana Gold Corp from Australia
Trafigura (trading and logistics) from Netherlands
Relevant government actorsDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources; Mines and Geosciences Bureau
International and Financial InstitutionsANZ Bank New Zealand Limited (banking) from New Zealand - banking
HSBC Bank Australia Limited (banking) from Australia - banking
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersDidipio Earth-savers’ Multi-purpose Association (DESAMA);

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM);

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE); AGHAM (Advocates of Science and technology for the People); provincial alliance Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK); Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP); Komisyon ng Karapatang pantao ng Pilipinas (Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines); Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines;

Franciscans International (FI);

Europe Third World Center (CETIM) ;

Fundacion de Estudios para la Aplicacion del Derecho (FESPAD), and others
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingArtisanal miners
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Bugkalot Indigenous community
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseDeaths
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Killing of Cheryl Ananayo, member of anti-mining group DESAMA, and her cousin-in-law Randy Nabayay
Development of AlternativesLocal groups want to stop the mining project.

Based on an assessment of the gross violations of human rights, the Commission for Human Rights (CHR) in the Philippines urged to stop the FTAA agreement; however, the government did not do so.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project goes on.
Sources and Materials

Philippine Mining Act of 1995
[click to view]

Executive Order No. 79 (July 2012) Institutionalizing And Implementing Reforms In The Philippine Mining Sector Providing Policies And Guidelines To Ensure Environmental Protection And Responsible Mining In The Utilization Of Mineral Resources
[click to view]

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA)
[click to view]


[5] William Holden, Kathleen Nadeau and R. Daniel Jacobson 2011. Exemplifying Accumulation By Dispossession: Mining And Indigenous Peoples In The Philippines. Geografiska Annaler: Series B
[click to view]

[3] Resolution of the displacement complaint of residents of Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.
[click to view]


[1] OceanaGold Corporation Company website (accessed 16/03/2015)
[click to view]

[2] GMANEWS online (7/3/2011): "Despite CHR protest, NZ-based miner to bankroll Didipio copper project" (accessed 16/03/2015)
[click to view]

[8] GMANEWS online (29/8/2008): "Lender asked to withdraw funding for gold mine" (accessed 16/03/2015)
[click to view]

[4] PIPLINKS (18/9/2014): "Philippine environmentalists, indigenous people protest OceanaGold mine for ‘deception, displacement, and destruction’" (accessed 16/03/2015)
[click to view]

[6] Philstar article (17/7/2013): "OceanaGold in Nueva Vizcaya shut down" (accessed 16/03/2015)
[click to view]

[7] Center for Environmental Concerns article (17/12/2014) on the case. (accessed 16/03/2015)
[click to view]

[8] KALIKASAN online (08/12/2012) Another mother, anti-mining activist killed days before Human Rights Day. (accessed 13/04/2015)
[click to view]

Media Links

Protests outside the mine
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News report on the case
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Other Documents

teargas against villagers Source: https://unitedmedianetwork.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/oceana-gold-stay-out-in-didipio-the-continuing-story-of-indigenous-resistance-to-large-scale-mining-in-the-philippine-highlands/
[click to view]

Protests Source: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/09/19/indigenous-peoples-environmentalists-call-for-end-to-oceanagolds-mining-plunder/
[click to view]

Resolution of the displacement complaints by the Comission on Human Rights in the Philippines
[click to view]

Oxfam Mining Ombudsman - Full report 2003
[click to view]

Philippine groups express solidarity to people of El Salvador in fight against mining giant Oceana Gold/Pacific Rim Mining Corporation
[click to view]

Human Rights Situation in Australia - With focus on the Government of Australia’s responsibility toward the human rights violation committed by Australian corporations
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim.scheidel "at" gmail.com
Last update23/01/2017