We are committed to continually improving the way we manage and report information relating to our stakeholder engagement activities and compliance obligations.
Trust in our company is built on long-term relationships, and relationships are built on dialogue and collaboration. We seek to obtain and sustain a broad base of support for our operations by engaging and listening through meaningful dialogue, respecting local cultures, and acting in good faith and transparently. We use the feedback we gain from stakeholders to improve our management of key issues and impacts, respond to concerns or issues relating to our business activities, identify opportunities, inform our business strategy and activities, and develop social investment programs collaboratively.
Engagement with the UN High Commission for Human Rights
In February 2019, we received a letter from the Special Procedures branch of the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR). In its letter (available here), the OHCHR requested information from OceanaGold on alleged environmental and human rights issues relating to our Didipio Mine.
We replied by letter in April 2019 (available here) setting out information on each of the issues raised by the OHCHR. We reiterated our Didipio Mine is committed to being a good corporate citizen, and that this commitment encompasses our respect for the environment and internationally recognised human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples. We noted that we are also committed to engagement on an effective and genuine basis with all stakeholders impacted by our operations, including global and local civil society groups.
Following our formal response to the OHCHR our Executive VP and Head of External Affairs and Social Performance met with the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the Chief of the Special Procedures branch of the OHCHR and with staff for the UN Special Rapporteurs on hazardous substances and wastes, safe drinking water and sanitation, the rights of indigenous peoples, and the situation of human rights defenders. The meetings were an opportunity for us to discuss our response to the information requests, and to answer any further questions from the UN Special Procedures.
On 30 April 2020, the OHCHR published a statement (available here) about a delivery of emergency back-up fuel to our Didipio Mine.
We take these allegations seriously and stand by our commitment to responsible mining and, regardless of their position, have been committed to engagement on an effective and genuine basis with all stakeholders impacted by our Didipio Mine.
On 1 May 2020, we provided a response (available here) to the OHCHR, outlining the status of our FTAA renewal, the history around the unlawful barricade preventing trucking to and from the Didipio Mine, the reason we need emergency back-up fuel at the mine, the engagement we conducted over several months to try and get the fuel to the mine, and the government approvals from the regulatory agencies and the Office of the President for the delivery.
We stand by our commitments to responsible mining and will continue to engage openly. Our focus remains on continuing to work in partnership with all our stakeholders to recommence responsible mining at Didipio as soon as possible.
Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)
We fully support the rights of indigenous peoples across all our operations and this is supported by our Human Rights Policy. FPIC is recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It ensures that communities have a say about projects that may impact on their land, their livelihood, and the local environment.
In 1997, the Philippines National Government passed the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), establishing formal processes for recognising the right to customary land tenure and self-governance.
The Didipio FTAA area is not included in the existing Bugkalot tribe’s Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim, so FPIC has not been required. However, we did obtain favourable endorsement for the mine from the Didipio community in 2002, as part of our Environmental Compliance Certificate process.
There is currently a Bugkalot claim to extend their Ancestral Domain to include the Didipio FTAA area. This claim has not been assessed or determined by the Philippines National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
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 recognise 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.
We have made a commitment to accommodate the IPRA Law (which became law after our FTAA was signed in 1994) if this is requested by the Philippines Government.
Philippines Congressional Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples
On Friday 28 February 2020, the Philippines Congressional Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples held a public hearing at the Didipio Mine to explore environmental and human rights allegations made against the operation.
The Secretary of the Congressional Committee requested this public hearing be held at the Didipio Mine, and invited participation from all the concerned parties. This public hearing open to anybody who wanted to attend. Over 1,000 people attended the hearing, representing all groups.
The Congressional Committee heard presentations around the allegations and there was also a questions and answers session which gave representative the opportunity to directly answer all questions or concerns about the operations in an open forum (those responses available in the section above). Following the Committee hearing, all parties were invited to submit their position papers to be considered by the Committee.
This process, and any further actions, is being managed independently by the Committee and OceanaGold is a stakeholder to this process only.