MAC: Mines and Communities

Bicolanos and environmental groups demand permanent closure of La Fayette mining in Rapu-rapu

Published by MAC on 2005-11-09

Bicolanos and environmental groups demand permanent closure of La Fayette mining in Rapu-rapu

Press Release - Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) for the Defend Patrimony! Alliance (in coordination with Sagip Isla and Umalpaska-Bikol)

November 9, 2005

"The DENR should not only suspend the operation but must order the permanent closure of the La Fayette mine operation in Rapu-rapu," avers Fr. Felino Bugauisan, Assistant Parish priest and Coordinator of Sagip Isla, a local alliance in Rapu-rapu opposing La Fayette mining in the area.

"La Fayette and the Arroyo government lied to us when they assured us that they will protect and will not harm our fragile environment. The mine tailings and cyanide spills that happened validate our concerns that La Fayette mining operation will not bring progress but death and destruction to our lives and communities. We do not want another Marcopper-Placer Dome tragedy in our island."

Fr. Bugauisan disputed the report of La Fayette that the October 31 mine tailings spill and cyanide contamination is lesser than the spill and contamination which happened last October 11. "The extent of fishkill that happened after the October 31 incident affected a larger area and resulted to the deaths of greater number of fish and marine organisms. La Fayette reported that the spill was caused by the malfunctioning of their tailings pump in October 11, while the local officials from Bgy. Malobago confirmed the collapse of the tailings dam in October 31."

The spill caused "fishkill" in three villages in Rapu-rapu namely Bgy. Binosawan, Pagcolbon and Malobago. Dr. Domingo Vergara, Hospital Chief of Rapu-rapu District Hospital advised the local people to refrain temporarily from buying and eating fish and other edible marine organism in the affected areas.

"We fear a cover-up of the real impact of these incidents. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Regional Director Rey San Juan has been reporting that October 11 tailing spill and cyanide contamination is just a minor incident and its effects were contained only within the mine site, when they themselves admit that they still need to further investigate the situation" Fr. Bugauisan adds.

Rapu-rapu Municipal Councilor Eric de la Paz refutes the reported voluntarily suspension of La Fayette's operation. "We got reports from the workers of La Fayette that they only shifted their production to other working areas within the mine sites," says Mr. de la Paz. "The municipal council unanimously passed a resolution yesterday asking President Arroyo and DENR to cancel the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of La La Fayette because of its clear violation of ECC provisions. Contained also in our resolution is the recommendation to temporarily close the mining operation of la Fayette."

Clemente Bautista Jr., convenor of Defend Patrimony! Alliance says that the La Fayette Mining should not have been approved by the government. He cited that apart from being a small island ecosystem, Rapu-rapu is in fact reeling from the environmental and health impacts of previous large-scale mining operations, and the locals have not given consent for the mining operation.

"The La Fayette mine tailings and cyanide spills in Rapu-rapu is a glaring proof that there is no such thing as responsible and sustainable mining under the mining liberalization policies and large-scale mining projects of the government and its foreign partners. La Fayette mining presents a clear and present danger to the people and environment, they must pull out of Rapu-rapu

Contact Kalikasan-PNE at 0632-9248756

Lafayette gets please explain

By Barry Fitzgerald, Resources Editor, The Age

November 10, 2005

LAFAYETTE Mining's Rapu Rapu polymetallic project in the Philippines has been called on o demonstrate that the project's tailings dam system is up to scratch after the operation's econd "spill" of treatment waste in a matter of weeks.Melbourne-based Lafayette was placed in a trading halt yesterday pending what it said would e an announcement to the market "clarifying speculation contained in the Philippine meda" in relation the spills. Those media reports said operations at Rapu Rapu ha been voluntarily suspended following spills of process treatment water on October 11 and 3, with the first causing a small fish kill.

The reports said the move came ahead of an intentionby the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to issue a suspension order in response to the spills, ith various claims made about the level of cyanide they contained and the impact on creek an marine fish.

Lafayette will make the clarifying statement today. Lafyette managing director Andrew McIlwain was at the site yesterday. He said that therewas no issue with the operation's tailing dam. The dam's Perth-based designers are duein Rapu Rapu today to meet government officials and to attest that it meets internaional standards.

Mr McIlwain described the two spills as minor incident. The first involved tailings that were pumped to the wrong area and got away, while the secnd was related to heavy rainfall causing water to spill over, as the design and approvalsallow.

He said that the need to demonstrate to government auhorities that there were no lasting issues with the tailings dam came as the group had volntarily suspended operations as part of the planned changeover from the mining of oxide goldores to the mining and treatment of sulphide ores containing both base and precious metals

The group recently announced that the commissioning o the base metals circuit had started and that full production was due to be achieved in the Jue quarter of next year.

Mr McIlwain recently dined with Philippines President Glria Macapagal-Arroyo at Malacanan Palace — an invitation that reflected Rapu Rapu's statusas the first foreign-funded new mine development in the country for more than 30 years.

Lafayette cyanide spill probed

Robin Bromby, The Australian

November 11, 2005

EMERGING copper and zinc producer Lafayette Mining has committed one of the cardinal sins of mining in a developing country - it has caused environmental pollution from gold production, in this case by releasing low levels of cyanide from a tailings dam in the Philippines.

All mining has been suspended at the Rapu Rapu Island project while the company and the Philippines' environmental and mines agencies investigate the incidents. The mine has been producing gold since April and only started base-metal production on Monday.

Lafayette said the Philippine Government was concerned and the local people feared the dam would fail, sending pollution into their fishing grounds.

Lafayette chief executive Andrew McIlwain, speaking from the Philippines yesterday, said the company was well aware of the political sensitivity to such environment accidents. "I know that only too well - it's one thing we certainly didn't want to happen," he said.

The first accident happened on October 11 when a discharge pond at the mine became too full and 5 cubic metres containing low levels of cyanide was discharged into surrounding areas. Mr McIlwain said that the pond had been fixed.

The second incident occurred on November 1 when, following torrential rain, Lafayette allowed a controlled discharge from the tailings pond - which it was permitted to do. But this alarmed local people.

The incident remains minor by comparison with some of the worst accidents caused by Australian companies abroad, but the contamination has caused strong local reactions.

Perth junior Esmeralda Exploration discharged cyanide from its Romanian gold mine in 2000 and the pollution ended up in the Danube. BHP was blamed for killing sections of the Fly River in Papua New Guinea when it operated the Ok Tedi copper-gold mine there - and river pollution from the Panguna mine was one of the issues fuelling the rebel uprising on Bougainville.

In the Philippines itself, foreign access to minerals was severely hampered in the mid-1990s when Placer Dome's tailings dam burst at the Marinduque mine, causing damage that is still being litigated.

Lafayette is converting Rapu Rapu from a gold to a copper and zinc operation. It closed 1.5c down at 15c.

Australia Miner in Philippine Cyanide Leak Probe

November 11, 2005


SYDNEY - Australia-listed Lafayette Mining Ltd. said on Thursday it was cooperating with environmental agencies after halting operations at its mine in the Philippines following two cyanide spills in less than a month.

Lafayette said the discharges of the toxic chemical, used to segregate gold from ore, into local water systems on remote Rapu Rapu island had had "minimal environmental effects," though authorities are demanding the company draw up plans to rehabilitate the region and compensate local villagers. The most recent spill, on Nov. 1, was caused by heavy rains at the mine site and followed an earlier larger spill on Oct. 11.

Lafayette's shares were down more than 9 percent at A$0.15 on Thursday.

"The company is working closely with the responsible national authority, the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, the Mines and Geoscience Bureau and the local communities to investigate these events, remediate any adverse impacts and, importantly, ensure there is no re-occurrence," the company said in a statement.

Reynulfo Juan, regional director at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, told Reuters earlier this week his agency had ordered Lafayette to submit a rehabilitation plan for the affected creeks and to compensate fishermen.

The mine, about 400 km (250 miles) south of Manila, is the first in the Philippines to be developed by a foreign company in almost four decades and has so far yielded 2,500 ounces of gold.

By the end of June 2006, the mine is forecast to yield predominately copper and zinc, though it will also account for 50,000 ounces of gold and a half-million ounces of silver each year as a by-product from the base metals ore.

So far, Lafayette has spent $45 million developing the mine, which is worked by islanders from the nearby barangays, or villages, and expatriates.

South Korea's LG Co. International Ltd. and the Korean government's resources investment arm, called KORES, together hold 26 percent of Lafayette's subsidiary company Lafayette Philippines Inc. and provided $10 million in subordinated debt financing.

Minera australiana suspendida por vertidos tóxicos en Filipinas


Terra Actualidad - EFE

El Departamento de Minas y Geociencia ordenó hoy a la firma minera australiana Lafayette Phil que suspenda sus operaciones de extracción de oro y cobre en la isla de Rapu Rapu tras las denuncias de sus habitantes de que los vertidos de cianuro estaban acabando con la riqueza pesquera de la zona.

Fuentes del Departamento señalaron que la medida se mantendrá en vigor hasta que una comisión de expertos valore los daños causados y calibre la responsabilidad de la firma, dedicada a la extracción de oro, plata y cobre en Rapu Rapu, 330 kilómetros al sur de Manila.

Según los residentes, la mina estaba vertiendo en los riachuelos de la isla altos niveles de cianuro de potasio, un componente utilizado para separar el oro del mineral de cobre que ha provocado la muerte de peces y organismos marinos de la zona.

Los afectados han pedido una indemnización por parte de la compañía, que comenzó sus actividades el pasado julio con la pretensión de producir 50.000 onzas anuales de oro, 600.000 de plata y 10.000 toneladas métricas de cobre.

Su puesta en marcha se produjo después de que Manila autorizara la compra de minas a las compañías extranjeras, lo que provocó las críticas de las minorías tribales que acusaron al Gobierno de vender el patrimonio nacional al capital foráneo.

Filipinas está considerada la quinta potencia minera del mundo, con la tercera mayor reserva de oro, la cuarta en cobre, la quinta en níquel y la sexta en cromo.

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