ABN AMRO & ANZ: Stop funding marine pollution

Feature story - August 23, 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 bank ABN-Amro, one of the world's biggest financial institutions, and Australian bank ANZ are providing financial backing for the mining operations. This is despite the fact that both banks have policies in place which are supposed to prevent them from investing in socially and environmentally irresponsible projects.

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

Rapu Rapu - Countdown to an environmental disaster

Late last year, Lafayette was ordered to stop its mining operations after it twice released cyanide and other contaminants into the environment, resulting in massive fish kills. Subsequent investigations carried out  by a Presidential Fact-Finding Commission revealed that not only had Lafayette been operating the mine beyond its capacity but that it had been doing so even before it completed the construction of 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 leaks occurred. Residents have since reported more fish  kills in the creeks leading out from the mine into Albay Gulf.

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

The pristine waters, seagrass beds and mangroves of Albay Gulf create an exceptionally rich fishing ground for fishermen. Dolphins, sea turtles, egrets, and purple herons are frequently sighted in these waters. Five of the seven marine turtles in the world are found in the Albay Gulf, while the eastern coast, including Rapu Rapu, is a migration path for whale sharks. The Lafayette mine threatens the survival 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."

Read more about the Lafayette mine

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

Take action!

Tell ABN AMRO and ANZ to stop funding ocean pollution