Defend our oceans against pollution from mining!

Page - August 3, 2006
Stop Lafayette From Polluting Our Seas! Send a petition to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Stop Lafayette From Polluting Our Seas!

In many places, pollution from mining operations damages marine habitats and contaminates seafood consumed by local people, threatening our oceans and ultimately ourselves and our future.

In the Philippines, Bicol's immensely beautiful marine environment and its fragile sea creatures face a grave threat-toxic pollution and siltation caused by mining operations in Rapu Rapu Island in Albay.

The pristine waters of the Bicol region are acknowledged as the feeding grounds and migratory route of the whale shark, the largest fish in the sea. It is also home to five of the seven known marine turtles in the world, and its rich seagrass beds and mangroves, which make for a high marine biodiversity index, have turned the area into exceptionally rich fishing grounds for the region's fishermen.

The Philippine government allowed Australian firm Lafayette Philippines Inc to start the extraction of gold, silver, copper and zinc within Rapu Rapu in April 2005 despite strong opposition from local and national groups concerned that toxic mine tailings will be released into the sea. Clearly, the island is a dangerous place for a mine: not only is it situated along the country's typhoon belt, but also along a major fault, making it a high-risk area for mining catastrophes. During its few - months of operation, the mining company showed negligence and government agencies, such as the Environmental Management Bureau and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, failed to act on behalf of the people and environment. In October and November 2005, cyanide and other contaminants from the mine spilled into the sea and around the island, resulting in massive fish kills.

On May 19, 2006, a government-commissioned report recommended canceling the license of Lafayette in Rapu Rapu and a moratorium on all mining at Rapu Rapu. Greenpeace is running a petition to President Gloria Arroyo to follow the recommendations of the Rapu Rapu Factfinding Commission. The Greenpeace petition calls for permanent closure of the mine and obligation or Lafayette to clean and rehabilitate the mine site so that further damage can be avoided.