Environmentalists and church leaders in Bicol will launch yet another protest—this time for three days—against the government for allowing Lafayette Philippines Inc. to resume its operation.
Felino Bogaoisan, parish priest of Santa Florentina Parish, told The Manila Times that the people of Rapu-Rapu, including the Sagip Isla Movement and church leaders, will conduct a three-day rally today until Tuesday to condemn the resumption of Lafayette operations.
“We are condemning the reopening of Lafayette. The dictate of money still weighs heavier than destructions to human life as our government is unable to guarantee safety,” Bogaoisan said.
On Monday Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes went to Rapu-Rapu, which observers noted then as indicative of developments that were positive to Lafayette and its mining operations at Rapu-Rapu, following its earlier 15-month suspension due to tailing spills.
Three days later, Reyes made formal the lifting of the suspension of Lafayette Philippines’ Rapu-Rapu polymetallic project in Albay.
“After due deliberations by the Pollution Adjudication Board, the motion of Rapu-Rapu Processing, Inc. dated October 18, 2006, for a lifting of the cease and desist order issued by the DENR-PAB on January 9, 2006, is granted and a formal lifting order is hereby issued,” Reyes said at a news conference.
“We want to make sure that the community and the environment are protected before we allow the mining firm to operate,” Reyes pointed out to reporters during his Albay visit, which was marred by bad weather conditions.
Carlos Dominguez, president and CEO of the Lafayette mining firm, said they are ready to operate on full scale commercial operations after remedial measures were put in place.
“We’re confident that [Secretary Reyes] will allow us to operate on full scale commercial mining operation because we’ve proven that we were able to take three typhoons without any single damage from ponds or tailing, and there was no spillage,” continued Dominguez.
Manuel Agcoili, Rapu-Rapu Processing Inc. president, told The Times that during the four-month test run, the mining firm shipped at least 1,510 tons of copper concentrate in China.
“The first shipment was 805 tons of copper concentrate with a market value of $1.8 million; the second shipment was 705 metric tons with a market value of $1.1 million,” he said. The third shipment is zinc, approximately 1,600 metric tons that is set for shipment to Korea within this month.
Mark Campos, LPI senior vice-president for production and commercial operation, told The Times that during the four-month test run Lafayette generated at least 2,400 tons of copper concentrate and 1,500 zinc, which had a market value ranging from $2.5 million to $3 million, or P150 million.
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