MAC: Mines and Communities

Government Gives Lafayette Test 60-day Extension

Published by MAC on 2006-09-14
Source: Inquirer

Gov't gives Lafayette test 60-day extension

By Blanche Rivera, Inquirer -

14th September 2006

THE GOVERNMENT has allowed Australian mining firm Lafayette Philippines Inc. to extend the test run of its Rapu-Rapu mine by another 60 days.

Saying the country needed to proceed with economic development once environmental protection was assured, Environment Secretary Angelo T. Reyes on Tuesday approved Lafayette's motion for extension of its 30-day three-stage test run which ended on Sept. 9.

The Pollution Adjudication Board, a quasi-judicial body under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has issued a 60-day temporary lifting order of the suspension of Lafayette's operations, allowing the firm to continue a test run of its facilities at full capacity.

"The boards found valid the regional offices' opinion that the efficiency in Respondent's detoxification system can accurately be assessed by allowing it to extend the period of operation," the PAB said in its order dated Sept. 11, citing the recommendations of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Environmental Management Bureau of the DENR.

The PAB, however, required Lafayette to submit within five days an updated schedule of activities within the 60-day test run, the projected efficiency of the mill recovery and the pollution and environmental management measures, and an internal audit of its environmental management system.

Lafayette was also asked to comply with certain technical requirements that will determine cyanide loading and cyanide destruction efficiency, and to monitor the dissolved oxygen levels to ensure efficient detoxification.

"I will not allow the environment to be polluted by any means . However once the protection of the environment is assured, we must allow economic development to take place also for the benefit of our people and to boost the financial resources of the government," Reyes said in a statement Wednesday.

Defend Patrimony, a nationwide alliance against mining liberalization, raised howls of protest against the extended test run, saying Lafayette should instead be required to secure a new environmental compliance certificate to prove the reliability of its new structures.

"How low should our government agencies bend for these mining transnational corporations? Lafayette is not even bringing in fresh money. It is only operating on hedge funds, how much taxes can government stand to gain out of such operations?" Ester Perez de Tagle, spokesperson of Concerned Citizens against Pollution, said in a statement.

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