Press Release
June 15, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the suspension of mining operations of the Australian mining firm Lafayette in Rapu Rapu island, Albay should not be lifted by the government unless adequate safeguards are put in place to prevent the pollution of the surrounding sea and farm lands that have endangered the health of residents and destroyed their names of livelihood.

Pimentel said it would be very unfortunate if the government will turn a deaf ear to the strong objections of the residents to the resumption of copper and zinc mining by Lafayette which they consider a threat to their very existence.

What is important here is that the poisoning of the sea waters around the mining site in Rapu Rapu and its environs is addressed adequately, he said.

The minority leader reminded the government that the residents of the communities around the mining sites must be consulted and their consent is obtained before any mining operation is allowed.

Pimentel said whatever financial gains that will accrue to the communities concerned from the mining operations will mean nothing if the local folk lose their livelihood due to chemical poisoning of the fishing grounds and the agricultural lands.

The fisherfolk in the area complain that they are no longer able to catch fish that is safe to eat. They have produced evidence of fish that are poisoned by chemicals supposedly dumped into the sea by the mining operations, he said. In short, the sea and the environment must be kept clean and safe from pollution by the mining operations in question.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has ordered Lafayette mining to conduct a 30-day test run of its facilities in Rapu Rapu to prove that the company can operate its mines within environmental standards.

The DENR wants to make sure that Lafayettes anti-pollution facilities and measures are sufficient to prevent a repeat of two waste-water spills last October, 2005.

If the test run is successful, the DENR will allow the full reopening of the Lafayette mines.

Pimentel noted that the plan of Malacañang and the DENR to allow the resumption of Lafayettes mining operations is contrary to the recommendation of the Rapu Rapu Fact-Finding Commission, chaired by Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes for the closure of the mines in the island based on the findings of scientists and the clamor of the people.

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