MAC: Mines and Communities

Fight Against Lafayette Mining Far From Over

Published by MAC on 2007-02-14
Source: Kalikasan-People's Network

Fight against Lafayette Mining far from over

Kalikasan-PNE Press Release

14th February 2007

Denouncing DENR Secretary, Angelo Reyes, his heartless decision to reopen Lafayette's Rapu-Rapu mine and his utter lack of love for the island and its residents, Defend Patrimony alliance today announced the start of an international petition addressed at Lafayette Mining's corporate financiers and the formation of the Save Rapu-Rapu Task Force that would continue to monitor the situation in Albay and campaign for the permanent closure of Lafayette.

"The fight against the Lafayette mine reopening is far from over. We are not the least appeased by Sec. Reyes' public reassurances that Lafayette Mining will no longer cause environmental damage. We'll be closely monitoring the situation in Rapu-Rapu and will continue to work for Lafayette's permanent pull-out in the island," declared geologist and Defend Patrimony Spokesperson Trixie Concepcion. Defend Patrimony along with national fisherfolks federation PAMALAKAYA today presented their "Valentines Day gifts" to the DENR, including a mock program of the world record-breaking 'Lovapalooza' kissing spree and announcements of more protest actions against Lafayette.

Concepcion said that environmental groups and local Rapu-Rapu folk would make international a massive "shame campaign" against Lafayette Mining's continuing presence in Rapu-Rapu. This is to be initially done through an international petition addressed to major bank financiers of Lafayette such as ABN AMRO of the Netherlands, ANZ of Australia, Standard Chartered
Korean First Bank (KFSC) of South Korea and shareholders as JPMorgan Chase.

The international petition was initiated early this January by Sagip-Isla, Sagip Kapwa, a local alliance in Rapu-Rapu opposed to Lafayette's mining operations. The first wave of petition-signing this February has quickly gathered hundreds of signatories among the island's residents alone.

"As of now we have gathered 1,384 signatures from the local residents of Rapu-rapu in just one week. We are targeting to get around 80-90% of the island's households in the island to support the petition. This is another way to demonstrate that the significant majority of the local people do not want large-scale mining in their lands and expose that Lafayette is operating without social consent," said local Rapu-Rapu elder and Sagip-Isla leader Antonio Casetas.

The text of the petition reads that "contrary to what is routinely claimed by LPI and communicated to its financiers, the project utterly lacks local community support, therefore operating without having obtained the 'social license to operate,' as required in covenants as the 'Equator Principles' that are supposed to govern your (bank financiers) investment decisions."

"WE THEREFORE URGE the consortium of financiers to the LPI mine in Rapu-Rapu to immediately withdraw their assistance to this financially-unstable, environmentally-destructive, and socially-insensitive project that deserves nothing but outright censure and closure," said in the petition.

Defend Patrimony said that the petition is also gathering more supporters from the national level. Among the Bicolono personalities and who support the petition are Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, Congressman Satur Ocampo, and Dr. Regina Regis.

"We want to show to the world that until now Lafayette does not enjoy public support and what is happening now in Rapu-rapu is pure plunder and devastation. Through the petition, we are requesting the bank financiers to withdraw their financial support to the polymetallic mining project of Lafayette in Rapu-rapu," Ms. Concepcion adds.

"Banks as ABN AMRO, ANZ, JPMorgan Chase and Standard Chartered choose to take a huge ´RapuRaputational´ risk with their continued involvement in this mining operation" said Johan Frijns, coordinator of BankTrack

Based in The Netherlands, Banktrack is worldwide network of civil society organizations and individuals tracking the operations of the private financial sector and its effect on people and the planet. Banktrack also spearheads the petition campaign at the international level.

"International banks keeping Lafayette afloat are strongly advised not to derive any false reassurances from the decision to grant the mine a permanent lifting order", Frijns said, "the issues that make this a extremely risky investment for any bank pretending to be serious about sustainability will remain. With no social license to operate, leading to continued widespread opposition to the mine, and operating under adverse natural conditions the very same issues that led to the earlier suspension of operations will return on their plate."

Frijns has tallied at least 285 individuals representing at least 60 international organizations that have supported the petition during its initial wave of dissemination.

Starting today, the petition will be made available to the public this week via the internet, where people may directly sign up to support at, Concepcion said. ###

CLEMENTE BAUTISTA national coordinator
Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099

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