MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Lafayette backs fish scare probe in Sorsogon (Lafayette)

Published by MAC on 2005-12-24

Lafayette backs fish scare probe in Sorsogon (Lafayette)

Philippine Daily Inquirer

24th December 2005

MINING firm Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI), operator of the P1.4 billion Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP) in Albay, yesterday said it is supporting plans by Sorsogon officials to investigate the source of the fish scare that now grips the coastal towns of the Albay Gulf. "We will be cooperating fully... We will produce any relevant documents they require and they are even free to visit the site to see for themselves what we are doing in Rapu-Rapu," said LPI country manager Rod Watt on Thursday.

Denial

At the same time, however, Watt strongly denied allegations linking the RRPP to findings that fish caught in the Albay Gulf were contaminated with mercury.

"The BFAR report, assuming it is accurate, cannot be used to blame LPI as the source of the mercury," said Watt. "We do not use mercury in our gold processing plant."

He said LPI itself wanted to find out what the real source of the mercury was and was willing to extend whatever assistanceis needed as part of LPI's "good corporate neighbor" policy.

"It is our commitment to work with the community that surrounds our project site and we are willing to do our share to help in anyway that we can...," he said.

Sobriety

The statement also quoted Sorsogon board member Rebecca Aquino as calling for sobriety on the fish scare issue.

"We should first determine if there are really high levels of mercury in the fish catch and, if true, what the real source of the contamination is," Aquino said in a press statement. "That will allow us to make the appropriate response," Aquino said.

Recent reports by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said that fish caught off the coastal waters of Prieto Diaz town registered mercury concentrations ranging from 0.699 to 1.288 parts per million (ppm), which are above the standard limit of 0.075 ppm.

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