MAC: Mines and Communities

Lafayette Restart Slammed

Published by MAC on 2007-02-15
Source: Philipine Daily Inquirer ()

Lafayette restart slammed

By: Nikko Dizon and TJ Burgonio, Philippine Daily Inquirer

15th February 2007

A Catholic Bishop and various environment groups have denouced the government's recent decision to allow the resumption of operations of the Australian-operated Lafayette Mining Ltd. in Rapu-rapu, Albay.

"They just don't get it," Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said in a statement released Monday, insisting that mining in Rapu-rapu is "inappropriate" and "detrimental" to the environment.

"It's heartless," said the head of the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya.

Members of Pamalakaya staged a protest rally at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources yesterday, highlighted by what they dubbed a "fishapalooza" (a parody of Manila's kissing couples "lovapalooza") where they literally kissed Tilapia fishes goodbye to dramatize their fears.

In 2005, Lafayette Mining was suspended following two mine tailing spills that resulted in cyanide contamination and fish kills.

Bastes said he would hold Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes and Lafayette "responsible for further danger and damage that will occur on the island."

The bishop said he was not conviced by Reyes' assurance that "everything is oky with the mining operations."

The protesters--composed of Rapu-rapu residents, Church leaders, environment organizations, academecians and scientists -- went a step further and wrote the financiers of Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI), urging them to withdraw their investments from the controversial mining project.

The group issued the call to ABN AMRO, Standard Chartered, and ANZ, among other financiers of Lafayette.

"Similar or more tragic incidents are highly probable to occur again during or even after the mine-life of the polymetallic mining project and you, as financiers of this project, would be equally accountable as LPI and related companies are," it said in a petition.

Beau Boconguis, media campaigner of Greenpeace, said the world environment group was also saddened by the decision to reopen the mine.

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