Greenpeace leads Philippines mining protest

Greenpeace leads Philippines mining protest

Thursday, August 24th 2006

Environmental watchdog Greenpeace has led local coastal communities in a protest against an Australian company set to resume mining operations in the central Philippine island of Rapu-Rapu.

A flotilla comprised of the Greenpeace vessel “Esperanza” and 70 small boats sailed in front of Lafayette Mining’s facility in Rapu-Rapu to protest the government’s decision to let mining resume there after two spills in 2005.

The flotilla bore banners saying, “No to Lafayette mine.”

“Our basic demand is for the company to be shut down,” said Greenpeace’s regional campaigner Beau Bacongis, who took part in the protest.

A small boat sailed to the Lafayette mine’s pier and handed protest statements to company representatives before leaving, Bacongis said.

Operations at Rapu-Rapu were suspended for seven months following two waste spills in October 2005, which a government probe concluded contaminated two creeks and killed fish.

Last month, Lafayette Mining began a 30-day trial operation at the mine after it paid a 194,000 dollar fine and vowed to implement stricter environment safeguards.

Leftist and environmental groups have called for the closure of the mine and the repeal of a 1995 law that opened the mining industry to foreign firms.

The Rapu-Rapu mine is expected to produce copper, gold, silver and zinc valued at 350 million dollars over six years. It employs around 900 workers.

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