SANTIAGO CITY—The 22-kilometer service-road network developed by Australian mining firm OceanaGold (Philippines) Inc. to and from its mine site in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, through Cabarroguis, Quirino, is undergoing pavement construction, with sharp curves and slopes given top priority.
“The upland highway does not only serve as a delivery road for mineral concentrates, but also serves as a farm-to-market road for large-scale agricultural crops and livestock from the mining village and contour farms nearby,” Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Regional Director for Cagayan Valley Mario A. Ancheta said.
He said this first city in Isabela is a business confluence point in Cagayan Valley and is a major beneficiary of the farm products coming from hillside farms at the vicinity of the mining project.
Ancheta said residents from the project area, especially those who live along the service road, can now reach urban centers, shopping malls, commercial banks, their favorite fast-food chains and university belts quickly via the mining road.
“Farmers in Barangay Didipio find it more convenient to transport their farm products now because of the all-weather road established by the mining firm, which is gradually being paved. The upland highway was designed according to world-class mine-safety standards, which makes it easier for our MGB team to closely monitor the Didipio mining operation,” Ancheta added.
The MGB regional director said that, while the road was opened in Quirino Province, the direct beneficiaries are local residents of Nueva Vizcaya since the gold-copper project is in the mining village of Didipio in Kasibu town.
“The road has transformed what used to be a sleepy village into a progressive commercial district like a tiny upland city. The direct employment of locals in road maintenance is a great advantage for residents who are always given top priority, including women who are assigned to manage road traffic,” Ancheta said.
The Didipio Corp. (DiCorp), a locally established company that caters to the daily meals of about 2,000 mining workers also employs a number of local residents in charge of road maintenance.
Many see the ongoing pavement construction of the road a favorable project, not only for laborers, but for everyone who regularly commutes to and from the community center and to the project site, because of the safe and friendly road design.
“The good road does not only give convenient access to the project site in general, but has given the ‘go signal’ for local residents to purchase their own service vehicles. Besides, in cases of emergency, the firm’s emergency response team can easily transport patients to the nearest hospital downtown,” OceanaGold (Philippines) Senior Vice President for Communications and External Affairs Ramoncito Gozar said.
The good roads attract local businessmen from nearby towns to haul their merchandise direct from the farm since the prices of fresh agricultural products are cheaper at farm gate.
“Farmers who do not have the means to transport their harvests could simply call or text their business counterparts from the lowlands to pick up their produce right from the source,” Gozar said.
Image credits: Leonardo Perante II