Priest condemns re-opening of Aust mine in Philippines

The parish priest of St Florentina on Rapu Rapu island in the central Philippines has condemned the re-opening of an Australian-owned mine on the island after the government lifted a 15-month suspension of operations owing to earlier tailing spills.

Environmentalists and church leaders in Bicol will launch a three day protest against the government for allowing Lafayette Philippines Inc to resume its operations on Rapu Rapu, the Manila Times reports.

St Florentina parish priest, Fr Bugaoisan, told the Times that the people of Rapu Rapu, including the Sagip Isla Movement and church leaders, will conduct a three-day rally to condemn the resumption of Lafayette operations.

"We are condemning the reopening of Lafayette. The dictate of money still weighs heavier than destructions to human life as our government is unable to guarantee safety," Fr Bugaoisan said.

The protest follows a decision last week by Philippines Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes to lift the 15-month long suspension of Lafayette Philippines' polymetallic project in Rapu Rapu, Albay province.

Carlos Dominguez, president and CEO of the Lafayette mining firm, said the company is ready to operate on full scale commercial operations after remedial measures were put in place.

"We're confident that [Secretary Reyes] will allow us to operate on full scale commercial mining operation because we've proven that we were able to take three typhoons without any single damage from ponds or tailing, and there was no spillage," continued Dominguez.

Meanwhile, Lafayette Managing Director David Parker told Radio Australia that the company was exonerated [by the government decision] and does not use mercury in its operations.

"I think there is a very active anti-mining lobby in the Philippines, and we have been targeted," he said.

"[We] became a focal point for those anti-mining groups through the course of 2006.

"The mercury hoax was one incident of an attempt to sabotage our operations."

Lafayette faced a large fine and substantial costs to upgrade environmental safeguards before the production ban was lifted.

Protesters regroup as mine due to reopen (Manila Times, 12/2/07)
Australian-Philippines mine claims sabotage (Radio Australia, 12/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Lafayette Mining
Rapu Rapu website
Saving an Island (Bulatlat, 20-26 November 2005)

Mining companies modern "Trojans", says Filipino bishop (CathNews, 29/1/07)
Mining to blame for typhoon deaths, Filipino priest says (CathNews, 18/12/06)
Philippines priest appeals for fair media coverage of mine spill (CathNews, 2/11/06)
Filipino bishops seek solidarity from Australian Church (CathNews, 22/9/06)
Priest threatens to take Aussie mine to court (CathNews, 8/9/06)
Fish kill confirmed near Australian mine in Philippines, priest denies sabotage (CathNews, 16/8/06)
Oxfam weighs in on debate over Australian mine in Philippines (CathNews, 10/8/06)
Lafayette rejects community claims over spill (CathNews 31/7/06)
Filipino Bishop disappointed over Lafayette mine decision (CathNews 14/6/06)


13 Feb 2007

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