MAC: Mines and Communities

Stop Funding Lafayette Mining In Rapu-rapu Island!

Published by MAC on 2007-04-23
Source: KALIKASAN- PEOPLES NETWORK ()

Stop funding Lafayette Mining in Rapu-Rapu island!

KALIKASAN- PEOPLES NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT PRESS RELEASE

23th April 2007

Internationally-coordinated protest action demands that ABN AMRO pull out from Australian-owned mining project in the Philippines.

Internationally coordinated protest actions hits ABN AMRO offices in three countries today as environmental activists pressured the international bank to withdraw its support for a controversial large-scale mining project in Rapu- rapu island.

ABN AMRO, an international bank holding main office in the Netherlands, is one of the high-profile investors behind the Rapu-Rapu mine project along with ANZ of Australia, KFSX of South Korea and Standard Chartered Bank of the United Kingdom.

Four protest actions were held today in Makati City and Legazpi City in the Philippines, Cheung Kong Centre in Hongkong and Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

Two protest actions were held in the Philippines: a rally in Legazpi City, Albay headed by local anti-mining organizations Sagip Isla, Sagip Kapwa and Umalpas Ka Bikol and a roving protest in front of ABN AMRO Philippine Office in Makati City.

In other countries, pickets were held in front of the ABN AMRO Hongkong Office, Corporate and Institutional Banking, ABN AMRO Bank N.V. 38/F, Cheung Kong Centre 2 Queens Road Central Hong Kong and the ABN AMRO Head Office, ABN AMRO Bank N.V. Gustav Mahlerlaan 10 1082 PP Amsterdam.

The Australian company Lafayette Mining Limited owns and operates the polymetallic mining project in the small island of Rapu-rapu in Albay Philippines. In October 2005, Lafayette's commercial open-pit mining operations resulted in two mine tailings spills that caused cyanide contamination and fish kills in the rivers and adjacent coastal areas in the island. In December 2006, heavy rains from supertyphoon Reming (international codename Durian) hit the mining area and caused landslides that killed 11 people all from mining-affected communities while Lafayette incurred heavy damages on its mine infrastructures and facilities.

Environmental activists, local Church groups, and the Rapu-Rapu community last February circulated an international petition signed by over 800 environmentalists from 27 countries and thousands of Bicolanos and exhorting ABN AMRO to withdraw financial support for the project and help defuse the environmental time bomb that Lafayette Mining has planted in Rapu-Rapu.

"We want Lafayette to pull out their financial support for Lafayette's destructive and dirty mining project in Rapu-Rapu. ABN AMRO made a mistake in financing the Lafayette's mining project, which has already caused environmental tragedies, economic dislocations and social miseries to the local people of Rapurapu and nearby municipalities," said Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan, a Philippine-based environmental activist group.

"The environmental and social risk of the project is very high for ABN AMRO to gamble with. Up to now, the issue of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) has not been addressed by Lafayette. Many experts and scientists says that Rapurapu is an environmental time bomb. The toxic contamination that will result from Lafayette mine tailings and AMD will be so massive and extensive that will render the island devastated and uninhabitable," Mr. Bautista points.

Meanwhile Filipinos, Chinese and Dutch picketed the offices of ABN AMRO main office in The Netherlands and Hongkong.

"The Nederlans-Filippijnse Solidariteitsbeweging (NFS) is very concerned about the situation in Rapu-Rapu Island - not just over the environmental damage, but also over the social impacts. We fear that the Arroyo government will use its military to try to silence opposition to the mining project - as it did to Mindoro and other provinces," said Theo Droog, Chairperson of NFS, a Dutch-Filipino Solidarity group in The Netherlands.

"The NFS will try its best to let the Dutch public know that the Lafayette mining project which ABN-AMRO is funding is operating without social- acceptability of the local communities. Lafayette mining project will not even pass the Equator Principles that ABN AMRO promotes. We hope to get the support of the Dutch people, especially the ABN-AMRO clients, to pressure the bank to withdraw its support for the said project," added Mr. Droog.

The Equator Principles (EPs) is a voluntary set of guidelines for assessing and managing environmental and social risks in project financing which was signed by several international banks from Europe.

Eman Villanueva, Secretary-General of United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) said that "Lafayette mining project are example of the so-called foreign "development projects" that promises economic prosperity to the Filipinos but actually results in the massive extraction of their resources and destruction of their local livelihoods like what is happening now in Rapurapu. This drives more Filipinos to look for jobs to other countries to support their families. Lafayette mining is not in Rapu- Rapu to help us Filipinos but to rob us of our natural wealth."

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator, Kalikasan 0922-844-9787 or 920-9099. Email: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com

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