Greenpeace Statement on the reopening of Lafayette mine in Rapu Rapu Island, Albay

Press release - February 8, 2007
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Pollution Adjudication Board released today a Permanent Lifting Order on the ban on the mining activities of Lafayette Philippines, Inc. in Rapu Rapu Island, Albay Province.

Beau Baconguis, Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia said:

"The DENR decision today is hardly surprising, especially since the government has always wanted to project Lafayette as a model mining operation. From the start we knew that the process initiated by the DENR would eventually lead to this, given the government's aggressive efforts to promote mining in the country.

"While the decision is good for Lafayette, it is a grim one for the coastal communities within and around Rapu Rapu Island. With the issuance of the Permanent Lifting Order, the DENR, the government arm mandated to protect the environment, has endangered these communities and their rich marine resources. Lafayette now has the license to suck

out the life of Rapu Rapu island and leave the people mired deeper in poverty and in a severely degraded environment.

"Whatever benefit that the island will obtain from the mine's extractive activities is superficial and will not be sufficient to compensate for the permanent loss of resources, collateral effects to local livelihoods, missed economic opportunities, damage to marine health, and threats to human life and safety in the island and its environs.

"Greenpeace has consistently maintained that Lafayette's operations will seriously damage Rapu Rapu and its surrounding fragile marine ecosystem. The mine is precariously located along the country's typhoon belt, in a small and fragile island environment. Its toxic tailings and the inevitable acid mine drainage will continue to pose a clear and present danger to the surrounding environment and the communities who depend on it.

"The typhoons late last year proved the dangers of operating the mine in the island. The mine had to undergo extensive repairs to their damaged infrastructure which repeatedly and considerably delayed the test run.

"Greenpeace calls on the DENR to reconsider their decision and re-evaluate their priorities. Instead of promoting activities such as mining which destroy our fragile ecosystems, the government should invest in opportunities which promote the protection of our valuable resources."

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environment problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner, +63 917 803 6077 Lea Guerrero, Media Campaigner, +63 916 374 4969, +63 2 434 7034, loc. 104