MAC: Mines and Communities

Governor Opposes New Lafayette Exploration

Published by MAC on 2007-09-12
Governor Opposes New Lafayette Exploration

By Rhaydz B. Barcia Correspondent, Manila Times

12th September 2007

Legazpi City: The provincial government of Albay has strongly opposed the new exploration of Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI) in the island of Rapu-Rapu, Albay.

Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay warned the officials of the Environmental Management Bureau and Mine-Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources against granting any new permit to explore mining prospects anywhere in Albay.

Salceda, who had strongly opposed mining in Rapu-Rapu, noted that the host communities of the mining operations hardly benefited from the activity.

"There is simply no evidence of widespread benefit to the people from mining operations," said Salceda. "Instead, the risks to the environment are becoming abundantly clear," he added.

Salceda cited reports of unscrupulous speculators attempting to exploit Albay's natural resources and deprive Albayanos of their rightful share.

Cecile Calleja, LPI vice-president for corporation affairs told The Manila Times that they don't have a new application but are currently doing exploration in areas approved by MPSA.

"We don't have new application. We're doing exploration in areas we already have an MPSA since the law requires us to do so within a spe­ci­fied time frame." Calleja said.

The Manila Times tried to get the side of DENR officials in Bicol regarding the reported new exploration contested by Salceda but to no avail. Sulpicio Bernardo, officer in charge of the Mines and Geo-science Bureau, was busy entertaining a phone call, according to an employee while directors Rey Juan of the DENR regional office and Engr. Gilbert Gonzalez, director of EMB were in Manila.

The project has a potential life of eight years with a planned annual production of 10,000 tons of copper in concentrates; 14,000 tons on zinc concentrates; 50,000 ounces of gold and 600,000 ounces of silver annually with mine leases covering 180 hectares in the eastern side of Rapu-Rapu.

The project is an open pit mine focused on the Ungay-Malobago ore body where about six million tons of ore are to be mined.

Early this year, the Rapu-Rapu Mining operation was able to ship copper concentrates abroad.

The first shipment was 805 tons of copper concentrate with a market value of $1.8 million and the second was 705 metric tons with a market value of $1.1 million. The third shipment is zinc, approximately 1,600 metric tons for Korea.

Manuel Agcaoili, Rapu-Rapu Processing Inc. president said that during the four-month test run, they were able to ship at least 1,510 tons of copper concentrate to China.

Lafayette began its mining operations in April 2005, six months after two mine tailings spills occurred on October 11 and 31 causing fish kills in Albay Gulf. Opposition to the mining operations has not heeded.

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