Our Human Rights Policy details our commitment to respecting the human rights of everyone impacted by our activities, from exploration through to mining, processing and closure and rehabilitation. This includes our employees, individuals in the communities we operate in, workers in our supply chain, and other stakeholders. Our policy is consistent with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) are a set of guidelines for governments and businesses to prevent, address and remedy adverse human rights impacts resulting from business operations. OceanaGold is committed to the UNGP and is a signatory to the UN Global Compact – a set of principles to encourage businesses to operate responsibly.
Human rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration (UN) of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Core Conventions, as well as ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169 and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Human rights include:
- Civil rights and freedoms, such as the right to be treated equally;
- Political rights, such as the right to vote, to freedom of speech and to obtain information;
- Economic rights, such as the right to work and to participate in an economy that benefits all;
- Social rights, such as the right to education, health care, food, clothing, shelter and social security;
- Labour rights, such as the right to fair wages and safe working conditions; and
- Cultural rights, such as the right to freedom of religion and to speak the language and to practice the culture of one’s choice.
Under the UNGP and UN Global Compact, OceanaGold has a responsibility to respect the human rights across all aspects of our business. This means conducting proactive and ongoing due diligence to avoid infringing on human rights through our operations, to avoid complicity in the human rights abuses of others, and to provide access to effective remedy for any adverse impacts. In assessing and addressing human rights impacts, companies are expected to engage in meaningful consultation with individuals and communities potentially impacted by their operations.
Human Rights Impact Assessments
With the implementation of our new human rights policy and performance standard each of our sites initiated a Human Rights Impact Assessment. At Didipio (Philippines) and Haile (United States of America) an independent third-party conducted the assessment by visiting the sites and engaging with key stakeholders. At our New Zealand sites, the assessment was conducted internally guided by the independent party. Key groups within the business have also received Human Rights training.
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, 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 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.
We stand by our commitments to responsible mining and will continue to engage openly.
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. Over 1,000 people attended the hearing, representing all groups. This hearing was public, and open to anybody who wanted to attend.
The Congressional Committee heard presentations around the allegations and there was also a questions and answers session where the company was asked to respond to the allegations (those responses are 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 by the Congressional Committee and OceanaGold is a stakeholder to this process only.