An Open Letter to the Aussie PM attending APEC 2015
Dear Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull,
Before you visit the Philippines, you should know that your country’s large-scale gold and copper mining company, Oceana Gold, is destroying the environment and the lives of the people in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, a small community in the Northern Part of the Philippines.
After forcibly evicting the residents from their houses and bulldozed their farmlands in 2009, Oceana Gold is now destroying the water sources of communities adjacent to the mining site with their toxic mine tailings.
Last year, scientists under AGHAM (Advocates of Science and technology for the people) conducted an environmental investigative mission to check the levels of toxicity in the nearby rivers. The results revealed that the heavy metal copper greatly exceeded the maximum tolerable levels, and was even 6.5 to 7.4 times greater than the safety limits for benthic (lowest level of a water body) organisms. According to the scientists, copper poisoning can cause various diseases that can damage a human’s circulatory, excretory and digestive systems.
This gravely impacts the health and livelihood of the communities near the mining site and even the communities downstream whose source of irrigation water connects with the streams intersecting the mine.
Before the mining operations, water for consumption in Didipio comes from natural springs and water pumps which are free for everyone to use. But now, they have to buy mineral drinking water from refilling stations because the water in the area causes stomach aches and skin diseases to residents especially the children.
We are familiar with your stand in defence of your mining companies especially in coal mining; however, we only wish to inform you that the progress of your country brought about by your mining industry is at the expense of the lives of small indigenous peoples in a developing country like ours.
We would appreciate it if you can find it in your heart to help the people in Didipio that are mostly indigenous peoples and small farmers who base their livelihood from the land. OceanaGold took not only their lands away but also their chance of living a decent and healthy life.
We, Amianan Salakniban (Defend the North) the network for environment and human rights advocates in North Luzon, joins the residents of Didipio in their call to stop the destructive operations of Oceana Gold in the Philippines, compensate the affected residents and rehabilitate the areas they destroyed.
And if you wouldn’t mind, after your visit, please take OceanaGold home with you.
Fernando (Ampi) Mangili
Amianan Salakniban Spokesperson