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Lender asked to withdraw funding for gold mine

MANILA, Philippines - Environmental activists held a demonstration in front of an Australian lender in Makati City, demanding that it withdraw funding from a Nueva Vizcaya mine. In a statement, environmentalists led by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) picketed the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) in Makati City, launching an international campaign against the Didipio Gold-Copper mining project in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. The mine is owned by New Zealand-based OceanaGold Corporation (OGC). “The petition is demanding ANZ and HSBC, which are the major funders of OceanaGold, to pull out from the Didipio mining project. It would not be agreeable for ANZ and HSBC to be known as supporters of projects which have caused massive environmental degradation and human rights violations. These offenses run contrary to their claims of ‘socially and environmentally responsible’ banking norms," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment. The group said that they have already gathered 495 signatures in a week’s time, mostly from the Philippines and Australia. “We believe that the Didipio mining project of OGC is becoming more financially and economically unviable every day. Until now, there are no fresh investments and loans that are coming to the project. Based on its own financial report, OGC is consistently losing money since last year. This should serve as a warning to new investors not to risk their money in a project which is financially unstable, environmentally destructive and socially unacceptable," he added. The project is earning negative publicity because of the wrongs it has committed to the local and national minority residents. Even the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya passed a resolution withdrawing their support for the project last June 25. “Majority of the Ifugao and indigenous peoples in Nueva Vizcaya is strongly opposed to the OGC project in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. OGC violated our rights as indigenous people when they entered our communities without our consent. They have demolished our houses and are now forcefully seizing our natural resources and lands where we get our food and subsistence," said Peter Duyapat, Ifugao leader of Didipio Earth Savers Movement (DESAMA). Bautista pointed out that the mining project is doomed to fail as it is inherently flawed. It has caused widespread community displacement, human rights violations, economic dislocation and environmental devastation since it set foot in Nueva Vizcaya. - GMANews.TV