MAC: Mines and Communities

Bicolanos and environmental groups demand permanent closure of La Fayette mining in Rapu-rapu

Published by MAC on 2005-11-09

Bicolanos and environmental groups demand permanent closure of La Fayette mining in Rapu-rapu

Press Release - Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) for the Defend Patrimony! Alliance (in coordination with Sagip Isla and Umalpaska-Bikol)

November 9, 2005

"The DENR should not only suspend the operation but must order the permanent closure of the La Fayette mine operation in Rapu-rapu," avers Fr. Felino Bugauisan, Assistant Parish priest and Coordinator of Sagip Isla, a local alliance in Rapu-rapu opposing La Fayette mining in the area.

"La Fayette and the Arroyo government lied to us when they assured us that they will protect and will not harm our fragile environment. The mine tailings and cyanide spills that happened validate our concerns that La Fayette mining operation will not bring progress but death and destruction to our lives and communities. We do not want another Marcopper-Placer Dome tragedy in our island."

Fr. Bugauisan disputed the report of La Fayette that the October 31 mine tailings spill and cyanide contamination is lesser than the spill and contamination which happened last October 11. "The extent of fishkill that happened after the October 31 incident affected a larger area and resulted to the deaths of greater number of fish and marine organisms. La Fayette reported that the spill was caused by the malfunctioning of their tailings pump in October 11, while the local officials from Bgy. Malobago confirmed the collapse of the tailings dam in October 31."

The spill caused "fishkill" in three villages in Rapu-rapu namely Bgy. Binosawan, Pagcolbon and Malobago. Dr. Domingo Vergara, Hospital Chief of Rapu-rapu District Hospital advised the local people to refrain temporarily from buying and eating fish and other edible marine organism in the affected areas.

"We fear a cover-up of the real impact of these incidents. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Regional Director Rey San Juan has been reporting that October 11 tailing spill and cyanide contamination is just a minor incident and its effects were contained only within the mine site, when they themselves admit that they still need to further investigate the situation" Fr. Bugauisan adds.

Rapu-rapu Municipal Councilor Eric de la Paz refutes the reported voluntarily suspension of La Fayette's operation. "We got reports from the workers of La Fayette that they only shifted their production to other working areas within the mine sites," says Mr. de la Paz. "The municipal council unanimously passed a resolution yesterday asking President Arroyo and DENR to cancel the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of La La Fayette because of its clear violation of ECC provisions. Contained also in our resolution is the recommendation to temporarily close the mining operation of la Fayette."

Clemente Bautista Jr., convenor of Defend Patrimony! Alliance says that the La Fayette Mining should not have been approved by the government. He cited that apart from being a small island ecosystem, Rapu-rapu is in fact reeling from the environmental and health impacts of previous large-scale mining operations, and the locals have not given consent for the mining operation.

"The La Fayette mine tailings and cyanide spills in Rapu-rapu is a glaring proof that there is no such thing as responsible and sustainable mining under the mining liberalization policies and large-scale mining projects of the government and its foreign partners. La Fayette mining presents a clear and present danger to the people and environment, they must pull out of Rapu-rapu

Contact Kalikasan-PNE at 0632-9248756

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