MAC/20: Mines and Communities

DENR's 10.7 million peso fine is not enough!

Published by MAC on 2006-01-11

DENR's 10.7 million peso fine is not enough!

by Kalikasan-PNE - Press Release

11th January 2006

"The DENR's 10.7 million pesos fine to the La Fayette Mining Inc. (LFMI) is insufficient to cover the environmental and social damages of the series of tailings spills that the company has brought about. The measly fine appears to be DENR's way of muffling the local people's demands to stop the large-scale mining project in Rapu-rapu Island for good", said Clemente Bautista Jr. DENR estimated that La Fayette will earn an astonishing $41 million per year from the polymetallic mining project in Rapu-rapu.

Mr. Bautista cited that in other countries the cost of clean-up and rehabilitation in similar cases of mining cyanide spill runs up to tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. The environmental impact of the cyanide leaching in the open-pit Summitville Gold Mine in Colorado and Gilt Edge Mine in Alaska amounted to $170 million and $15 million, respectively. The Romanian government once demanded $100 million compensation from cyanide spills of the Baia Mare Gold Mine which was also operated by an Australian transnational mining company.

"Basically, the fine that the DENR is charging is based only on the violation of LFMI of the provision of the Clean Water Act not on the actual assessment of the impacts of the tailings spill, as well as other irregularities in the mining operations. Secondly, the fine fails to incorporate the health and environmental effects of other heavy metals integrated in the mine waste and tailings spilled by LFMI," says Januar Ong, Environmental Research Coordinator of Centre for Environmental Concerns (CEC) which headed the independent fact finding mission to investigate the mine spill held last November 2005.

"Contrary to the claim of DENR Sec. Defensor, the Arroyo government equally shares the responsibility for the Rapurapu disaster since it has adamantly pursued its "mining revitalization program" in spite of the obviously weak control and safety measures instituted by the government. Still, the people's experiences in Rapu-rapu Island, Marinduque, and Zamboanga del Norte, to cite a few cases, tell us that its mining liberalization has not benefited the local people. It has clearly resulted to massive displacement of communities, environmental destruction and violations of human rights," added by Mr. Bautista.

Since 2002 the Arroyo government aggressively promotes large-scale mining and makes it one of its priority economic programs. There are 23 large-scale mining projects that the government is now prioritizing which according to them will generate billion pesos for the government.

Reference: Clemente Bautista 09283448756
Januar Ong 09106545063, 9209099

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