MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Albay fishermen demand shutdown of mining firm

Published by MAC on 2006-01-11

Albay fishermen demand shutdown of mining firm

by Ronnie E. Calumpita, Reporter Manila Times

11th January 2006

A MILITANT group of fishermen on Tuesday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to permanently cancel the permit of a mining firm in Rapu Rapu, Albay, that was fined P10.7 million for two mine spills in October.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas said the fines slapped by the DENR Pollution Adjudication Board against Lafayette Philippines Inc. should be adequate compensation for the fishermen who lost their livelihood because of the spills.

"The demand of Bicol fishermen and other affected residents to get Lafayette out of their lives is nonnegotiable. The message is clear and it should go beyond the financial aspect of the issue, nothing more, nothing less," Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chairman, said in a statement.

The board found that the Rapu-Rapu Minerals Inc., owned by Australian Lafayette Mining Inc., violated Republic Act 9275, the Clean Water Act of 2004, when it discharged on October 11 and 31 untreated wastewater with high cyanide content into creeks that emptied into the Albay Gulf.

Hicap said that fishermen in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and Gubat, Prieto Diaz and Barcelona, Sorsogon, had small catch since then, while the marine life had been harmed by the two spills.

On the other hand, the lawyer Roderick Salazar, president of Rapu-Rapu Minerals, said he was confident that Lafayette would resume operations since they were 'correcting the issues.'

"In adherence to our company policy, we will continue to work with government and the local community to complete the process by which we can safely and confidently return to commissioning the base metals plant in the near term," he added.

Environment Secretary Michael Defensor said the department will lift the suspension only when it complies with environmental laws, including proper water treatment at the mining site.

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