MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Greenpeace "virtual March" On Lafayette

Published by MAC on 2006-08-11

By Nonoy Espina, -

11th August 2006

IN a bid to prevent controversial Lafayette Mining from resuming full operations on Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay province, the international environmental group Greenpeace launched on Friday an online "virtual march" against the Australian-owned firm.

The online protest involves a cyber-petition and a "picture protest page" on which photographs of anti-mining activists holding "No" signs are posted.

Thus far, around a hundred pictures are on the page.

Environmental activists are invited to log on to and click on a banner that says, "Stop the Mine, Save our Seas."

The launch of the online protest came a day after Greenpeace activists staged a protest at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office in Quezon City in which they unfurled a giant banner saying "Lafayette Mining: Countdown to an Ocean's Disaster" to mark the end of the 30-day test run granted to Lafayette.

Lafayette's operations were suspended late last year after two mine tailings spills caused fish kills in the waters around Rapu-Rapu.

However, despite recommendations of a Malacañang-appointed fact finding body to cancel the firm's environmental clearance, the DENR allowed Lafayette to undertake the test run last month.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia's Beau Baconguis accused the DENR of allowing the test run to "condition people's minds to accept the eventual resumption of Lafayette's operations."

The group maintains that allowing Lafayette to operate would spell disaster for the seas of the Bicol region, which are famed as the feeding grounds of the whale shark and home to five of the seven known species of marine turtles.

It pointed to alleged incidents of fish kills in creeks around the Rapu- Rapu mine site. But Lafayette earlier dismissed these reports as "sabotage" and claimed that, in at least one incident, pesticide was deliberately poured into a creek with the intention of later blaming the firm for poisoning the waterway.

"Communities in cyberspace provide a powerful help for Greenpeace in its mission to protect the environment," the group said. "Greenpeace cyber-activists, who number in hundreds of thousands, helped foster positive changes in international regulations and forced companies to withdraw from environmentally-damaging practices."

Greenpeace hopes the cyber-protest against Lafayette will replicate the success of past online protests, the latest of which led to promises by computer maker Dell in June to remove toxic chemicals from its products and the April withdrawal of support for Japanese whaling by seafood suppliers Gorton's, Sealord and their parent company Nissui.

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