MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mayor vows to stop Lafayette mining

Published by MAC on 2005-11-23

Mayor vows to stop Lafayette mining

23rd November 2005

By Blanche S. Rivera. Inquirer News Service - http://news.inq7.net/regions/index.php?index=1&story_id=57423

PROMISES UNKEPT have pushed the pro-mining mayor of Rapu-Rapu Island, site of the P1.4-billion Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project and recently, two mine spills, to seek Malacañang's intervention in closing down the foreign-funded mining project.

Rapu-Rapu Mayor Dick Galicia signed on Monday a municipal resolution asking President Macapagal-Arroyo and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to revoke the environmental copliance certificate issued to Lafayette Philippines Inc.

Galicia said Lafayette had deliberately fooled the people of Rapu-Rapu when it assured them the firm would use the best technology to ensure the protection of the fragile ecosystem of the 5,000-hectare island.

Lafayette also secured tax exemptions, contrary to a promise it had given the municipal government that the mining firm's taxes would give Rapu-Rapu enough revenues to turn it from a fourth class to a first class municipality.

"I used to be pro-Lafayette, but because of what happened to us, I'm going to stand up against it. We will find a way to get them out of the island," Galicia told the Inquirer during an interview in Quezon City Monday.

Galicia said Rapu-Rapu would get only two percent of the gross earnings from the mine operations, instead of the 35 percent in corporate taxes it should have received if Lafayette had not worked to have the island proclaimed as a special economic zone.

He said Lafayette even refused to disclose how much gold it has processed or sold in its four months of operation. Galicia had summoned an accountant of the mining firm who said she did not know the figures.

"When I saw the mine spills, I knew we would get nothing out of this (project)," Galicia said.

The municipal council's resolution expressed "disgust over the anomalous and irregular manner" by which Lafayette accomplished the proclamation of the island as an eco-zone, allowing it be tax-exempt for at least five years.

The resolution would be submitted to the President, the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, the DENR, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, and senators.

Rodel Batocabe, president of the Cagraray Environmental Protection and Development Foundation, said Lafayette, a subsidiary of Australian mining giant Lafayette Mining Ltd., was giving Australian mining firms a bad reputation because of what it had done in Rapu-Rapu.

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