MAC/20: Mines and Communities

The People Say No To Rapu-rapu Mine Reopening

Published by MAC on 2007-02-06

THE PEOPLE SAY NO TO RAPU-RAPU MINE REOPENING - Environmental groups to storm DENR tomorrow on eve of gov't decision on Lafayette


6th February 2007

The DENR and Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) will be activating a disastrous environmental time bomb if they grant a Permanent Lifting Order (PLO) to the destructive Rapu-Rapu polymetallic mine project by Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI) on February 8, environmental activists say as they prepare to storm the DENR office in Quezon City tomorrow to await the PAB's final decision.

Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of the environmental activist group Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE), said that "the DENR and the PAB should not approve the PLO sought by LPI in the face of still-unresolved environmental and social acceptability concerns raised by Rapu-Rapu residents, the Church and local government, environmental groups, and independent observers".

"A February 8 decision by the DENR on the LPI project is clearly premature and hastily considered at the very least. Lafayette spin doctors' claims that the company has complied with all 36 environmental standards remains to be cross-checked and affirmed by the project's oppositors from the scientific, environmental, and local communities, including the Bastes Commission," Bautista said.

"Despite their claims of environmental compliance, Lafayette has yet to publicly disclose how it aims to successfully address valid environmental threats, particularly that of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) present in the Rapu-Rapu mine," Bautista said.

AMD refers to drainage flowing from or caused by surface mining, deep mining or coal refuse piles that is typically highly acidic with elevated levels of dissolved metals. Among AMD's effects are the significant decline of fish and insect communities in streams polluted by metal oxides, due to depressed food supplies, gill clogging, smothering by metal precipitates, and direct toxicity from ingested metals. This, Bautista said, would have adverse negative impacts on the Rapu-Rapu and Sorsogon's fisherfolk, who comprise a significant number of the province's populations.

"The sub-aqueous deposition which LPI has adopted to control AMD is not used in hilly terrains such as in Rapu-rapu. Lafayette has yet to successfully refute the concerns raised by scientists and mine experts who view that sub-aqueous deposition may be counterproductive and actually enhance AMD," he added. "The DENR should remember the case of the 1996 mine tailings spill in Marcopper Mine in Marinduque Island and the corresponding impacts of acid mine drainage on river and marine environment. The government will be begging for a similar disaster if it approves the full operation of the LPI mine in Rapu-Rapu on Thursday,' Bautista said.

"The DENR still has two more days to write off its commitment to issue a decision by Thursday and listen to the side of all the sectors and organizations who remain opposed to the project for very valid reasons. The people have consistently rejected the destructive Rapu-Rapu mine project and it is high time that the DENR take the people's side in this issue," Bautista said.

Bautista also reported that Rapu-Rapu residents united under SAGIP-ISLA alliance are also preparing to submit an international petition addressed to the consortium of Lafayette's financiers, calling for the ABN AMRO (Netherlands), Standard Chartered (KFSC), ANZ and other main financiers to terminate financial assistance to LPI and its sister companies.

The petition is currently being circulated among residents of Rapu-Rapu's barangays, affected communities from the adjoining province of Sorsogon, local government and Church officials from the Bicol region, members of the academe, peoples' organizations and other NGOs.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan-PNE
National Coordinator
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099

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