ABN AMRO & ANZ: Stop funding marine pollution

Feature story - 23 August, 2006
After helping mitigate the devastation wrought by the Petron oil spill in Guimaras Island, the Esperanza led a flotilla in protest against the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette in the Philippines, funded by banks such as ABN-AMRO and ANZ. The Australian-owned mine was reopened in July despite government investigations which revealed ongoing leakages of highly toxic chemicals into the pristine waters of the Albay Gulf.

Flotilla of local boats accompanies Greenpeace ship Esperanza on protest against pollution caused by Layayette mine on Rapu Rapu Island, Philippines.

The Esperanza sailed into Rapu-Rapu Island accompanied by villagers

from the provinces of Sorsogon and Albay on board some 70 bancas (traditional outrigger boats) bearing banners saying "Stop Lafayette"and "ABN-Amro, ANZ Stop Funding Marine Pollution".  Dutch bankABN-Amro, one of the world's biggest financial institutions, andAustralian bank ANZ are providing financial backing for the miningoperations. This is despite the fact that both banks have policies inplace which are supposed to prevent them from investing in socially andenvironmentally irresponsible projects.

Our Toxics Campaigner Beau Baconguis said, "People rely on the richmarine ecosystem for food and income and have already suffered fromcontinuous toxic contamination from the Lafayette mine."

Rapu Rapu - Countdown to an environmental disaster

Late last year, Lafayette was ordered to stop its mining operationsafter it twice released cyanide and other contaminants into theenvironment, resulting in massive fish kills. Subsequent investigationscarried out  by a Presidential Fact-Finding Commission revealedthat not only had Lafayette been operating the mine beyond its capacitybut that it had been doing so even before it completed the constructionof barriers designed to prevent contamination reaching the sea.

The Philippine government then granted the company a licence for a 30-

day test run of the mine. During the test run, several toxic leaksoccurred. Residents have since reported more fish  kills in thecreeks leading out from the mine into Albay Gulf.

"The reopening of Lafayette mine has started the clock for anotherdisaster in our marine ecosystem. Lafayette mine must be closed forgood," Beau added.

The pristine waters, seagrass beds and mangroves of Albay Gulf createan exceptionally rich fishing ground for fishermen. Dolphins, seaturtles, egrets, and purple herons are frequently sighted in thesewaters. Five of the seven marine turtles in the world are found in theAlbay Gulf, while the eastern coast, including Rapu Rapu, is amigration path for whale sharks. The Lafayette mine threatens thesurvival of all of these species.

"The Arroyo government's support for the mining operation makes it

part of the problem and not the solution," said Baconguis. "Rather

than serve the interests of mining corporations the government must

act on behalf of the 30 million Filipinos who rely on our rich marine

environment for food and livelihoods."

Take Action!

Tell ABN AMRO and ANZ to stop funding ocean pollution

Read more about the Lafayette mine

Reports, photos and background info on the toxic Lafayette mine on Rapu Rapu