MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mining operations set back, says DENR

Published by MAC on 2006-01-11

Mining operations set back, says DENR

by Gil Francis Arevalo, Philippine Daily Inquirer

11th January 2006

LEGAZPI CITY - THE P10.7 million fine, among other fines, and the strict conditions imposed on Lafayette Philippines Inc. by the Pollution and Adjudication Board (PAB) will adversely affect the company's operations in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, according to Rey Juan, Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional director.

With Lafayette's operations already suspended after the mining spills late last year, Juan stressed that the ruling would further set back the company's timetable.

"Well, there's no one to blame here except Lafayette, which had admittedly overlooked putting up the necessary technologies needed in the continuous gold milling operations," he said.

Tough decision

Rod Watt, Lafayettte country manager, said in a phone interview that the firm would study the penalties and fines imposed on it as well as all the other conditions and requirements that his company was asked to comply with.

"It's kind of hard for us but we humbly submit to the dictates of Philippine laws. That's what the law says and we are going to abide by it," he said.

Watt added that he could not further comment on the fines imposed on Lafayette since the company has yet to receive the copies of the PAB ruling.

"The thing is, we are always cooperative with the Philippine government. Right now, our initial plan is to schedule a dialogue with the PAB to discuss all the mentioned conditions. Other than that I cannot make any statement," Watt said.

The P10.7 million total amount of fines and other penalties that have yet to be paid in connection with the Oct. 11 and Oct. 31 mine spills in the island-municipality of Rapu-Rapu in Albay are considered to be the biggest fine ever imposed by the government on a company in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Juan said Lafayette is still determined to continue its operations despite the ruling, but it may take some time before the company gains its momentum since it will have to take into consideration all the new conditions.

Resources

"Just imagine that amount of money, the pressure to comply with all the conditions in the soonest possible time, and the clamor of the local folk. This is indeed a make or break case. It only shows that our government means business here, especially with regard to the Mining Act of 1995," Juan said.

Lafayette is strictly required to rehabilitate its settling, polishing and event ponds to ensure that these can hold mine wastes and effluents from the project before it can resume operations.

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