The Final Verdict

RRPP Income from 2005 to 2012

RRPP Income from 2005 to 2012

RRPP Income in 2012

RRPP Income in 2012

AND NOW THE END IS NEAR . . .

AND NOW THE END IS NEAR . . .

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60 Finale

RRPP Income and Taxes in 2011

RRPP Income and Taxes in 2011

RRPP Income and Taxes in 2010

RRPP Income and Taxes in 2010

OPPOSE THE CONTINUING ONSLAUGHT ON THE EARTH

“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and you made my inheritance detestable.” (Jeremiah 2:7)


We, the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF), express alarm over the wanton abuse of natural resources by the Transnational Mining Corporations (TNCs) with their local cohorts in South Luzon Region, especially in Bicol. The experience of the Bicolano people is no different from the plight of local communities in mining areas throughout the country: massive environmental destruction, shrinking economic base of the people, militarization of mining communities, displacement of communities due to land-grabbing and unjust land-conversion, gross human rights violations, destruction of flora and fauna, and further impoverishment of the country. The unresolved and ever continuing polymetallic mining operations in Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay, Labo, Paracale, and Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, the aggressive mine expansion in Aroroy, Masbate by Filminera Resources Corp., the peculiar magnetite off-shore mining in Camarines Sur by Bogo Mining Resources Corp; the Palanog Cement Plant in Albay, Panganiban and San Andres, Catanduanes, and the deeper quagmire of maldevelopment of mining in Matnog, Sorsogon challenge us to rethink our role as responsible God’s stewards of creation ( Genesis 1: 26-31 ).


Destructive mining is blatantly unethical, unjust, and senseless for it exacerbates poverty, causes dislocation of livelihood of the people, and even threatens the base of life and life itself.


It is lamentable that the national government equates TNC mining with development, and is remiss in its duties in protecting the environment to the detriment of the people. It has been proven that the negative costs of mining operations far outweigh the gains.


Thus, to further liberalize the mining industry in favour of the mining corporations as being trumpeted by the Aquino administration will mean more suffering and death, dislocation, displacement and ruin of the environment.


Hence we call on the Filipino people:



1. To oppose all destructive mining operations, both locally or foreign-owned;

2. To scrap the Mining Act of 1995;

3. To demand immediate moratorium of large scale mining

4. To demand the demilitarization of mining communities

5. To fight for justice and integrity of creation;

6. To pass the HB 4315 or the Peoples’ Mining Bill


We urge our churches and faith-based groups and institutions to pursue organizing, awareness building, and other relevant activities, and be in full solidarity with the people’s movement against destructive mining operations.


With the liberating power of the Holy Spirit, we seek strength and wisdom to carry this task of asserting the right of the earth to survive and all that dwell therein.


Ecumenical Bishops Forum

October 6, 2011




DA Reports Rise in Fish Catch But Not in Albay Gulf

In the July 12-18, 2011 issue of Diario Veritas, the Department of Agriculture reported:


Nahilingan nin senyales nin pag-asenso an sector nin pagsisira sa paagi kan pagiging aktibo kan mga regional fishing ports sa primerong quarto kan taon.

Ipinahayag nin Rodolfo Paz, an general manager kan Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), an mga dakop kan sira an nagtaas nin maabot sa 93 porsyento sa Navotas, Iloilo, asin Sual, Pangasinan.

Siring man an nanotaran sa Davao Fish Port Complex na nagkaigwa man na 40% na pagdakul nin dakop kumparadosa dakop kan mga parasira sa kaparehong peryodo kan nakaaging taon.

Katakod kaini, pinag-engganyar kan DA an gabos na local na gobyerno sa nasyon na pakusugon an industriya nina pagsisira partikular sa aspeto kan environmental protection asin pagbukod sa mga ilegal na mga parasira.

Nakaabot kaya an report sa DA na rampante an paggamit nin mga dinamitakan mga parasira sa nagkakapirang kostal na lugar kan nasyon kun saen saro kan naunambitan digdi iyo an rehiyon Bikol.


At least two points are implied in this report. First, there are rises in fish catch in several areas of the country but not in Albay Gulf. Second, the DA blames all declines in fish catch on environmental degradation “and” illegal fishing.

On the first implication: Why is there no report of any rise in fish catch in Albay Gulf? The answer is obvious: there is in fact a precipitous decline as attested to by fishermen. A 95% decline has been reported here since 2005 the same year when Lafayette went into full operation. Why is there such a decline? We have referred that question to the DA and its line bureau BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) but no answer has ever been given. (They have not even reported any investigation conducted on the cause of death of a 15-meter sperm whale in 2010.)


We have ascribed the decline to mining in Rapu-Rapu from which flow several creeks that are discolored. Officials of Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project reply that fish catch decline is a global phenomenon (technical meeting on April 26, 2011 in EMB). Now, we have here a rebuttal to that defense - the DA report of fish catch rise in at least four areas. Fish catch decline is not a global phenomenon.

On the second implication: Since DA reports rises in fish catch in four areas of the country and calls for curtailment of illegal fishing, then it follows that after curtailing illegal fishing we can observe a rise in fish catch. In Albay Gulf, the Bantay Dagat, a local watch group against illegal fishing, has been very active in this campaign. However, the fish catch decline continues. Couple this observation with the fact that the DA confirms the presence of a fish sanctuary in Gaba Bay, Villahermosa, Rapu-Rapu . With a fish sanctuary and active campaign against illegal fishing, fish population should increase within one or two seasons but this does not happen. Hence, illegal fishing cannot be the cause. Again, we are led to the more obvious – the mining operation in Rapu-Rapu.

It should be pointed out that much of the fish catch in the past according to fishermen consisted of migratory fish from the Pacific Ocean – yellowfin tuna, kwaw, malasugi, tanguigue, sharks, etc. These species do not need the local breeding grounds in Albay Gulf to multiply. They spawn in the areas around Guam and come to Albay Gulf to feed seasonally. They pass through the gap between Rapu-Rapu and Prieto Diaz following the current. Since 2005, the catch of these species has consistently declined. Something is barring their path in that gap and that something is none other than the contamination of silt and heavy metals flowing from the mine site through the creeks and ultimately to the waters around Rapu-Rapu. The current carries the contaminants into the Albay Gulf and spreads them as the tide flows back out into the Philippine Sea.

Any way we look at the phenomenon in Albay Gulf, the glaring fact is that mining has adversely affected our food supply. Between fishing where we derive 100% of the benefits and Rapu-Rapu mining where were derive only 1/3 of 1% (according to the statement of Gov. Joey Salceda in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 28, 2011), we have to choose the former.


The same issue of Diario Veritas banners the headline “City secures fish trade.” It reports the plan of the Legazpi City Council “to beef up the local fishing industry through stern legislation . . . Councilor Carlos Ante had already invited the different leaders of the local fisher folk to lay out details of a proposed ordinance to secure their livelihood.” I laud the efforts of the good councilor. However, I suggest that a more comprehensive view of the problem be taken if it is ever intended to be solved. As management theory suggests, any solution should address the real cause of the problem. Limiting the analysis within the immediate vicinity of the city’s coastal waters will lead to a failure at solution.


Not too long ago, we learned that several city councilors led by then Mayor Noel Rosal visited the Rapu-Rapu mine. In the newsletter of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Foresight, he was quoted as follows: “The mine is full of promise for the province” (Pages 9 and 11). I wrote Hon. Rosal in November 2010 (by then he had become the City Administrator) attaching photographs of the creeks colored brown, red, yellow and orange. I asked if the tour guides brought his group to the creeks. It’s September 2011 and I still have to receive a reply. I also wrote to MGB V and EMB V. Both replied that the contamination in the creeks is within “tolerable levels.”


RRMI, RRPI, LG, Kores and MSC should not think that they have succeeded in convincing the local community in their claim that the mine is operated responsibly and that the benefits they have derived translate to sustainable development of the people. The condition of the creeks, the fish catch decline and the poverty prevailing in the island all speak eloquently of the truth. Environmental damage and economic injustice have worsened. Adding insult to injury, they have praised themselves through press releases about their environmental awards while the residents of Rapu-Rapu and the fishermen of Albay Gulf continue to suffer. The contamination in the creeks may be within “tolerable levels” in the standards of the DENR but the poverty of the island residents, the fish catch decline and the environmental damage are definitely intolerable in the standards of the local community.


The DA, BFAR, DENR, Legazpi City Council, other local government units and other authorities better look into Rapu-Rapu mining honestly if they really want to solve the problem of fish catch decline in Albay Gulf. Anything less than that would not be in keeping with the public trust reposed in them.

September 4, 2011




Giving some; taking so much

Giving some; taking so much

Mining Engineers’ Conference in Legazpi City blind to local residents’ plight!

On July 13 to 15, 2011 some 300 mining engineers converged in Legazpi City for their Bicol regional conference. This event is unfortunate because it projects the impression that mining engineers are blind to the plight of their fellow Filipinos suffering from the environmental damage and economic injustice wrought by mining companies.

We remind the Provincial Government of Albay about the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution 2011-020 issued on March 8, 2011 banning all future mining activities in the province. It should have shown consistency by expressing disfavor against the convention.

We rebuke the City Government of Legazpi for going against the sentiments of Albayanos against the continued destruction of our environment. The city has recently manifested its inability to walk the talk. In Mount Bariw, Barangay Estanza, a large swath of hillside is severely denuded yet it has done nothing. The silt from the denudation has flowed to Barangay Pinaric where it is several inches thick. In Embarcadero, large volumes of floating garbage greet the citizens whenever they go for a leisurely stroll along the boulevard. The city government has been so preoccupied with pleasing tourists but compromised the welfare of local residents who voted them into office and pay millions in taxes. Tourists bring in income but that income is just a means towards providing better living conditions for local residents. The means cannot be exchanged for the end. If the welfare of citizens is disadvantaged by the city government’s preoccupation with pleasing tourists, then it is time to withdraw the trust reposed in them during election.

The hosting of the mining engineers’ convention in Legazpi is a misstep of the city government. It betrays a failure to understand genuine environmental advocacy. While the city brags about its sanitary landfill, it fails to prove its pro-environment agenda by making a prominent endorsement of mining as a stimulant of progress. While we need products derived from mining, we insist that it should be done in the right place and the right manner. That is what responsible mining is all about. So far, however, all claims of responsible mining by many companies are nothing but hot air because of the evident damage wrought on their surroundings like what is happening in Rapu-Rapu, Aroroy, Palanog, Matnog, Paracale, Catanduanes, Caramoan, etc.

They say, if we do not want mining then we should not use the products of that industry. They are dead wrong. We want mining that does not destroy the environment. We want mining that reserves the natural resources of the Philippines for Filipinos. We want mining that spreads the fruits of development to the masses and not only to the foreign investors and their local junior partners.

We want mining that does not sacrifice our agriculture so that we protect our own food supply. Mining generally provides for non-basic needs while agriculture produces our most basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and livelihood. While mining generates a few temporary jobs, agriculture provides long-term sources of income thus genuinely assuring sustainable development.

We call on all mining engineers to support our notion of genuinely responsible mining. In view of the bad record of mining in Bicol, we ask them not to project the impression that they condone what is happening here contrary to declarations by the DENR, MGB, EMB and companies that all is well in Bicol mining. Bicol is severely suffering from the impacts of mining and the statements of the aforementioned entities are belied when we see the plight of the farmers and fishermen and the condition of our mountains, rivers, creeks and seas.

So in their visit to Rapu-Rapu today, they should make an objective assessment on the effects of mining in the island and its residents and not make it a mere field trip. They should talk to the people to know the real impact of RRPP on their lives. They tell us nothing but misery and deepening poverty. While the project heaps billions upon the foreign investors and their local junior partners, it brings “Lilliputian” benefits to the residents of the island and severe fish catch decline in Albay Gulf on which depend some 14,000 fishermen. Today, there is no more fish to catch in the gulf.

In 2010, the project earned P11.7 billion but according to Gov. Joey Salceda himself the province got a social fund of P41.71 million or a measly one-third (1/3) of 1%! If that is not enough, one can look at the creeks flowing from the mine site to the sea. They are colored yellow, orange, red and brown.

We ask the delegates to the mining conference to wake up to realities and not be deceived by the lies of those who support mining operations in Bicol.

July 19, 2011

RRPP’s Awards - Rubbing Salt on the People’s Injury

The DENR recently awarded the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project with the Saringaya Award while the Pollution Control Association of the Philippines, Inc gave it the Mother Nature Award. RRPP also boasts of other “awards” for its alleged “safe and responsible mining” in the island. The project’s executives also claim that they have “raised” the living standards of the host communities.

As the cliché goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. One needs only to go to the island and talk to the people to know the real impact of RRPP on their lives. They tell nothing but misery and deepening poverty. While the project heaps billions upon the foreign investors and their local junior partners, it brings “Lilliputian” benefits to the residents of the island and severe fish catch decline in Albay Gulf on which depend some 14,000 fishermen. Today, there is no more fish to catch in the gulf.

In 2010, the project earned P11.7 billion but according to Gov. Joey Salceda himself the province got a social fund of P41.71 million or a measly one-third (1/3) of 1%! If that is not enough, one can look at the creeks flowing from the mine site to the sea. They are colored yellow, orange, red and brown. Challenged to prove his belief in the reports of the Multi-partite Monitoring Team by bathing in the creeks on schedules and sites set by SARA, Director Reynulfo Juan of MGB V, showed photos of people perching on rocks in the discolored creeks on dates and sites they themselves chose. Challenged by SARA to withdraw the armed CAFGUs and allow free access and surprise visits to the creeks, Engr. Rogelio Corpus, President of RRMI, replied that they cannot allow such because they “have to protect their interests.” Hence, the interests of the environment and those of RRPP are contradictory.

The executives of RRPP can go on deluding themselves with fantastic claims of “safe and responsible mining” in Rapu-Rapu but the truth is well-known to the people who suffer much from the environmental damage and economic injustice attendant to the project. The emperor’s new clothes are well-praised by the award-giving bodies. One day, the truth will prevail and the awards will instead shatter their credibility. There is time under heaven for everything, says the Bible. Today, in the island of Rapu-Rapu and villages dependent on Albay Gulf, the people are groaning in pain. The awards are salt rubbed on their wounds while RRPP’s supporters have their photo-ops and raise their toasts of wine in fine dining. We believe that the day will come when, after being denied for so long, the people shall claim justice and RRPP’s awards will go to the dustbin.

July 18, 2011

Noon at Ngayon, Walang Responsableng Dayuhang Pagmimina sa Kabikolan!

Ang nagaganap na 1st Bicol Mining Conference mula Hulyo 13-15, 2011 dito sa Bikol (La Piazza Hotel) sa pangunguna ng MGB-V/DENR-V at ng Phil. Society of Mining Engineers ay isa na namang masamang pangitain para sa mamamayang Bikolano. Pag-uusapan na naman ng ahensya ng MGB-5 at DENR-5 kasama ang mga dayuhang korporasyon sa pagmimina kung paano pa uubusin ang yamang mineral ng Kabikolan, wawasakin ang kabundukan, karagatan at kalupaan ng Bikol.



Kahiya-hiya at malakas pa ang loob na ang itinakdang tema ng kumperensyang magaganap ay: Towards Responsible Mining: “Against All Odds”. Responsable para kanino? - Para sa mga malalaki at dayuhang korporasyon sa pagmimina kasama ng mga malalaking lokal na negosyante at para sa mga matataas na opisyales ng gobyerno at ahensya na nakikipagsabwatan sa mga korporasyong ito.



Kalokohang sabihin na ang operasyon na Open Pit Mining sa Rapu-Rapu, Albay (Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project ng Lafayette/LG-Kollins) at sa Aroroy, Masbate (Masbate Gold Project ng Filminera Resources Corporation) ay responsable! Mayroon bang pagpapasabog (blasting) ng kabundukan at kalupaan na “safe and environmental friendly”? Samantalang winawasak nga at hinuhukay pailalim.

Hindi rin responsable ang Magnetite Offshore Mining ng Bogo Mining Resources Corp. sa limang bayan ng Calabanga, Sipocot, Tinambac, Cabusao at Siruma sa Camarines Sur kung saan hahalukayin ang kailaliman ng karagatan 15 kilometro mula sa baybayin nito.

Hindi kailanman naging responsable ang mga dayuhang korporasyon ng pagmimina sa mga naapektuhan ng kanilang mga operasyon. Simula ng operasyon ng RRPP sa Rapu-Rapu ay lalong lumala ang kahirapan at nagkagutom-gutom ang mga residente dito dahil sa pagbagsak ng kanilang kabuhayan sa pangingisda at pagsasaka dulot ng mga lason ng pagmimina dito. Kung mayroong nakinabang sa binayad ng RRPP na P10,862.85 (mine waste fee) para sa 217,257 tonelada na “mine waste” ay ang MGB-V. (mula sa ulat ng MGB-V,2010). Sampung libong piso! Katumbas ba ito ng isang buhay ng nanay na namatay dahil nakakain ng isda dahil sa fishkill doon o ng isang batang namatay doon dahil sa kagutuman?

Apektado na nga ang mga residente sa pagmimina sa Barangay Nakalaya, Jose Panganiban sa Camarines Norte ay naiipit pa sila ngayon sa kaguluhan at away ng Investwell Corporation at ng FMCGI ng pamilyang Fonacier na nag-aagawan ng yamang mineral ng kanilang lugar.

Kasinungalingang ipamaglaki pa sa ulat ng DENR-V/MGB-V na ang malakihang pagmimina sa Kabikolan ang nagpasigla ng ekonomiya ng rehiyon samantalang ayon sa ulat ay nasa ikalawa sa pinakamahirap na rehiyon ang Bikol sa buong bansa. Kung sinasabi na umunlad ang ekonomiya ng Bikol dahil sa malakihang pagmimina – hindi ito maramdaman ng mga mamamayang Bikolano lalo na ng mga apektado ng mapaminsala at dayuhang pagmimina.

Tanging ang mga malalaki at dayuhang korporasyon sa pagmimina kasama ng mga malalaking lokal na negosyante at mga matataas na opisyales ng gobyerno at ahensya na nakikipagsabwatan sa mga korporasyong ito ang nakikinabang sa mga produkto at kita ng pagmimina dito sa Bikol. Sa ulat ng MBG-V/DENR-V noong 2010, sa kabuuan ay may P4,654,818,424.31 at P57,483,032.45 na kita mula sa “metallic ” at “non-metallic production”dito sa Bikol ayon sa pagkasunod-sunod ngunit hindi naman inulat ang mga dambuhala at limpak na limpak na kita ng mga korporasyon na maluwag na inilalabas patungo sa kanilang bansa. Maluwag nang nailalabas ang kita, maluwag pa ang kanilang operasyon dahil sa mga iba’t-ibang insentibo tulad ng: 6 years income tax exemption, 10 years export tax exemption, and import tax exemption at marami pang iba.



Kaya nga parang parang kabuteng nagsulputan ang mga ito sa Bikol dahil sa pagiging sagana ng rehiyon sa yamang mineral at prayoridad pa ng nakaraang gobyerno ni GMA ito para sa malakihang proyektong pagmimina na ipinagpapatuloy lamang ng gobyerno ni Noynoy Aquino at pinasahol pa sa ilalim ng kanyang Public-Private Partnership Program. Gayundin, patuloy ang pag-iral ng Mining Act of 1995 kung saan ay lalong nagbuyangyang sa ating likas na yaman para dambungin at wasakin ang ating kalikasan.



“Towards Responsible Mining: Against All Odds” ? - Ang responsableng pagmimina ay mangyayari lamang sa ating bansa kung magkakaroon ng re-oryentasyon ang industriya ng pagmimina sa ating bansa. Kung saan, ang kita ng industriya ng pagmimina ay napapakinabangan at napapaunlad ang mamamayang Pilipino at hindi napupunta sa dayuhan at sa mga lokal na kasabwat nito. Kung saan, ang gobyerno ang may kontrol ng industriya at hindi ang mga dayuhan.



Hindi dayuhang pagmimina at malawakang kumbersyon ng lupa ang magpapaunlad sa Kabikolan. Hindi ito ang sagot sa kahirapan at kagutuman ng mamamayang Bikolano. Pagpapaunlad ng agrikultura, trabaho at sapat na sahod, tirahan, libreng serbisyo-sosyal ang tutugon sa kahirapan at kagutuman upang mabuhay ng maayos at marangal ang mamamayang Bikolano. Tunay na Reporma sa Lupa at Pambansang Industriyalisasyon lamang ang magpapaunlad sa bansa at rehiyon.



UMALPAS-KA

Hulyo 13, 2011

A Word of Caution

There is another blogsite posing as SAVE RAPU-RAPU with address http://saverapu-rapu.blogspot.com. (Note the DASH.) That site is a deception. Even our design is imitated. The obvious motive is to confuse our readers. Our address has NO DASH between the words "rapu" and "rapu." Our site was first posted on December 3, 2007; theirs, on April 14, 2008. Hence, we are first in going online with this URL and design. We learned about the other site only recently. The apologists of the mining operation in the island can go to this and other lengths just to sow confusion. Deceptive tactics are a disservice to readers and only reveal the desperation of the pro-Rapu-Rapu mining group. Our readers are, therefore, warned.

Matthew 7:16 - You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briers do not bear figs.

Matthew 7:20 - So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do.

The creeks are crucial to the condition of fishing grounds

around Rapu-Rapu. They connect the mine site to Albay Gulf. The current severe decline in fish catch in the gulf is blamed on the mining operation in Rapu-Rapu. The decline started in 2005 as reported by fishermen; that's the same year when Lafayette began full operation. That is also the same year when the first two major fishkills started (October 11 and 31). The toxic spills came from the mine site and reached the surrounding body of water via the creeks. The contamination in those creeks will always damage the corral reefs in Albay Gulf. The effluent coming out of the mouths of the creeks prevents the entry of migratory fish from the Pacific Ocean into the gulf.

The joke is that there will no longer be any fishkill - because there are no more fish to kill.

The fish that allegedly died off the coasts of Linao and Binosawan during the fishkill reported by island residents and the parish on May 8, 2011 could be the migratory species from the Pacific Ocean attempting to enter Albay Gulf via the gap between Rapu-Rapu and Prieto Diaz. Linao is a village facing the ocean and Binosawan, the gap.

The MGB V Photographs and "Bathing" in the Creeks of Rapu-Rapu

MGB V Director Reynulfo A. Juan wrote to SARA Spokesperson Virgilio S. Perdigon, Jr. on April 15, 2011:

"With reference to your challenge to take a bath in the creeks, we have done just that. some members of the MMT and personnel of Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP) went to a picnic and took a bath at Pagcolbon Creek on March 29 and April 3, 2011. We are attaching pictures for your reference. These pictures indicate the current status of the creeks."

In reply, Mr. Perdigon writes:

The good Director says he believes the contamination data but he is not among those “bathing.” Someone is shown sitting on the rocks (obviously not bathing) but the face is not recognizable (number 10).

01

01
Perching not bathing: The people in the creeks are not actually in contact with the water. They are perching on rocks instead, obviously avoiding the effluent.



02

02
Hidden feet and rubber boots: The feet of the men in blue overalls are almost all hidden from the camera but obviously not immersed in water. Still, two photos show that they are wearing what appears to be rubber boots, another evidence of avoidance.

Vegetation avoids water: The photos show that green vegetation is distant from the water while vines that are in contact with it are brown, leafless and (as they appear in the photos) dead.

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Standing not bathing: The people shown to be at the mouth of one creek are also not bathing but standing. Since they were photographed at a great distance, MGB V fails to prove that they are not wearing rubber boots.

10

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What creek picnic? A group of men seated around some food are not bathing. They do not appear to be anywhere near the creeks. Instead they are in a parking lot as indicated by the pickup truck in the background.

11

11
Bathing not in creeks: The people shown to be bathing are not doing so in the creeks but far out in the sea whose location is not verified. We cannot tell how long they stayed in the seawater.
In contrast to those of MGB V, the following photographs of a clean creek at the foot of Mayon Volcano show very close affinity of the vegetation to the water and even the rocks.
In healthy creeks like those in Mayon Volcano: the leaves mingle with the water and the creek beds are green with moss.
While this Mayon creek is almost crystal clear, yellowish coloration is evident in the creeks emanating from the mine site in Rapu-Rapu photographed by MGB V. The MMT report is silent about results of sampling for heavy metals and freshwater organisms. Allowing us free access and surprise visits would have revealed if there are even snails in the creeks. The armed guards under the Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) base are very strong evidence that something is being hidden in the Rapu-Rapu creeks.

Then and Now: What Difference? What Improvement in the Creeks?

According to RRPP, the coloration of the creeks has improved. However, during the Technical Conference with the Environment Management Bureau Region V and Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance on April 26, Engr. Rogelio Corpus, President of RRMI, said that the difference between the pictures then and now is not significant. He requested the Presiding Officer, Engr. Henry Lopez of EMB V, for permission to present RRPP pictures taken on April 25. The RRPP pictures, however, cannot be verified independently because the mining companies do not want "free access and surprise visits" to the creeks. They do not want to withdraw the armed guards "to protect their interests." As an environmentalist organization, SARA wants to protect the environment. It follows that the interests of RRPP are contrary to those of the environment.



Below, we are presenting ALL pictures in the Annex to the EMB V Investigation Report dated March 8-10, 2011. Those on the left are the pictures we have been showing to authorities which were taken from 2006 to 2009; those on the right are alleged to have been taken in the same spots on March 8 to 10, 2011 by EMB V and the mining companies. You be the judge if there is any improvement.


Pagcolbon gabion

Pagcolbon downstream gabion

Pagcolbon downstream

Pagcolbon downstream looking towards the sea

Pagcolbon shoreline

Pagcolbon downstream

Pagcolbon shoreline

Hollowstone downstream

Hollowstone shoreline

Maypajo shoreline
So, is there any significant difference then and now?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kampo ng Bayan (5-12 December 2007) pics & video











































Photos courtesy of Bayan's Bikol Site (http://bayanbikol.multiply.com/). Visit the site for more Kampong Bayan photos.

For the video of Sagip Isla members "barging"inside the Albay Provincial Board's session hall on 12 December 2007, copy this url then paste it on the address bar http://bayanbikol.multiply.com/video/item/11

Oxfam Australia writes Lafayette's corporate post-mortem

Down the mine: Lafayette's lesson

Andrew Hewett
December 29, 2007
http://business.theage.com.au/down-the-mine-lafayettes-lesson/20071228-1jcl.html

AUSTRALIAN mining company Lafayette, operator of the Rapu Rapu mine on the small island of the same name in the Philippines, has just gone into voluntary administration. The news may raise eyebrows given the mining boom, but not everyone is surprised.

The story of Lafayette's mining operation and its financial failure resonates with a lesson that Oxfam Australia has long observed: a company that fails to obtain and retain a social licence to operate, in other words one that operates without community approval, is not viable.

Other Australian mining companies in the Philippines and elsewhere should heed Lafayette's rise and fall and take note of this cautionary tale.

Initially lauded as the darling of the Philippines' mining revival program, Lafayette quickly turned sour for local fisherfolk. Just months after the start of mine operations in 2005, two cyanide-laden spills into the sea killed fish and created consumer fear. People refused to buy fish from the island. Communities on the island and surrounding the bay, whose livelihoods depend on selling fish, struggled to feed their families. A government-established fact-finding commission accused the company of gross negligence for failing to establish environmental safeguards.

Following the request of community members, Oxfam Australia's mining ombudsman has been investigating community complaints about the Rapu Rapu mine. The result of our investigations, which included interviewing more than 130 stakeholders in the Philippines, is impossible to ignore. Among those interviewed were fisherfolk, whose livelihoods have been affected by fish kills associated with the mine's operation, local councillors, who are tired of waiting on empty promises for the social development projects Lafayette said would come, and the provincial governor, who complains bitterly that the mine pays no taxes that would benefit the region. Few people who are not paid directly by the company expressed any desire to see the mine continue.

Meanwhile, ANZ and other "Equator Principle" banks, which have signed on to a set of social and environmental benchmarks that should govern their lending decisions, continued to prop up the company.

After another fish kill in recent months that affected a community that had experienced the earlier fish kills, more than 150 protesters stormed the provincial government building last week and demanded the closure of the mine. Before Lafayette, they said, there were no fish kills.

Despite national regulatory agency attempts to convince locals that the latest fish kill was not associated with the company, they said enough was enough. So too, it would appear, have the banks, which are now owed about $250 million by Lafayette.

The real question now will be what happens to those communities on Rapu Rapu in the wake of the financial failure of Lafayette. Will the mine be abandoned, as so many other mines have been in the Philippines, leaving the local communities to deal with the legacy of continued pollution of their waters and fisheries? Will the administrators start a fire sale of the mine to try to pay off the company's debts to ANZ and others, which may result in another speculative operator without a commitment to social or environmental responsibility?

Or will ANZ and the other banks that have signed the Equator Principles use this opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental responsibility?

To date, the company has not been required by Philippine regulators to set aside money for the final rehabilitation of the mine. ANZ and the banks that supported Lafayette should show the communities of Rapu Rapu, who will live with the consequences of the failed investment, what "corporate social responsibility" means in practice. They can demonstrate this by ensuring that sufficient funds are set aside for the environmental rehabilitation of the mine and a sustainable development program for the communities of Rapu Rapu.

There is much to be gleaned from the Lafayette experience. The fundamental lesson for Australian mining companies operating in developing countries, as well as their financiers, is that mining projects that do not have and retain community approval ought not be pursued or financed.

For the Australian mining industry and government, the case demonstrates that an official complaints mechanism should be established in Australia to inquire into community dissatisfaction abroad. Doing so would ensure that Australian mining companies act in accordance with internationally accepted human rights and environmental standards. Compliance with these standards could have benefited all those who have missed out in the Lafayette case - communities, shareholders, mine workers and governments.

Andrew Hewett is executive director of Oxfam Australia.

Rapu Rapu mining filing for rehab, not bankruptcy; operations to continue: Lafayette

http://positivenewsmedia.net/am2/publish/Cities_And_Towns_23/Rapu_Rapu_mining_filing_for_rehab_not_bankruptcy_operations_to_continue_Lafayette_printer.shtml
Dec 20, 2007 - 10:58:43 AM


LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 21 (PNA) --- Lafayette Mining Ltd, announced on Thursday that the Rapu Rapu Group is filing a petition for rehabilitation, not bankruptcy as earlier reported in the media.

Lawyer Bayani Agabin, legal counsel of Lafayette Philippines, said rehabilitation means operations will continue and people would remain employed.

Agabin clarified this matter as news broke out that the mining firm has declared bankruptcy.

He explained “bankruptcy would mean mining operations stop, people would be laid off and the remaining assets sold but this is not the case at hand.”

Agabin said the project is viable but needs breathing space as far as paying obligations is concerned. “It is not closing down, is definitely not bankcrupt, and simply needs time to get back on its feet by being allowed to suspend payment of its present obligations.”

While payment to creditors and suppliers will be suspended, they will also be required to continue providing services and supplies and would be paid on a cash basis.

The Rapu Rapu Group of Companies will seek court protection this week from creditors following a decision by Lafayette Mining Ltd to go under voluntary administration.

Carlos G. Dominguez, chairman and president of Lafayette Phils., which oversees the Rapu Rapu Group, said the local units will file a petition for rehabilitation so it can continue normal operations, which is the best way to protect all its stakeholders, particularly its host communities, employees, and the environment.

The rehabilitation petition is expected to result in a court order instructing the group’s present creditors and suppliers to continue their services and transactions with the local companies for as long as they are paid on cash basis.

Under the rehab petition payment for existing debts will be suspended until the court has approved a rehabilitation plan that will fairly settle all outstanding debts and ensure the continued operations of the company.

The voluntary administration of LML was reached after its board deemed that it could not continue to meet its obligations as and when they fall due.

Dominguez, in a press statement, said “this temporary legal process we are going through is actually a blessing for the Rapu Rapu project because it will resolve the financial issues the local management team has been urging LML to address.” (PNA)

Defend Patrimony demands permanent closure of Rapu-Rapu mine, accountability and responsibility from Arroyo, DENR, and Lafayette

Defend Patrimony Press Release
18th December 2007
http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press1775.htm

Anti-mining liberalization alliance Defend Patrimony today pressed for the permanent closure of the Arroyo administration's first foreign-owned showcase mining project in the Philippines owned by financially-troubled Lafayette Mining Limited (LML) of Australia.

LML owns 74% of Lafayette Philippines Inc. which runs an open-pit mine in Rapu-Rapu island in Albay. LML Board of Directors yesterday declared that they will be undergoing 'voluntary administration', transferring control of the company's business, property, and affairs to Australia-based administrator Ferrier Hodgson under Rod Sutton and Peter McCluskey after repeatedly failing to pay its liabilities on time.

At a protest action in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Main Office in Quezon City today, environmental activists united under Defend Patrimony pressed Environment Secretary Lito Atienza to immediately support the permanent closure of the Lafayette mine and set in place mechanisms for the rehabilitation of the area and renumeration or compensation for mining-affected communities.

"The recent bankruptcy of Lafayette should once and for all convince the government to totally close the mining operations in Rapu-Rapu island," Clemente Bautista Jr., a convenor of Defend Patrimony alliance and National Coordinator for Kalikasan Peoples' Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), said in a statement.

"More than a financial mess, the Lafayette mine is an environmental and social failure. We have forewarned President Arroyo and the DENR that the project is not socially, technically, environmentally and financially feasible but they still allowed it to proceed. The Arroyo administration should be held accountable along with Lafayette to rehabilitate the island and compensate the local residents for the damages done by the mine", Bautista added.

"They also must ensure that enough rehabilitation fund is available for the affected people in the Island. This must be primarily provided by the Banks now that operating the mines", the Kalikasan PNE coordinator stressed. Based on a dialogue of Defend Patrimony with DENR officials, there is still no funding available for rehabilitation of Rapurapu if ever the mines closed immediately.

According to banktrack.org, the mining project is funded by the following financial stakeholders: a lenders group (ABN AMRO, ANZ, Investec, SC First Bank, Standard Chartered, Standard Bank), LG International and KORES, Korean state companies, and Lafayette's shareholders.###


For interviews, please contact Mr. Clemente Bautista Jr., 63-922-844-9787 or 9209099 or through email kalikasan.pne@gmail.com

DEFEND PATRIMONY! is a broad alliance comprised of organizations and individuals united in the defense of Filipino people's rights and national patrimony against the wholesale plunder of our mineral and other natural resources.


Kampong Bayan

Editorial
Vox Bikol
03-09 December 2007

With its Kampong Bayan, Rapu-Rapu residents have chosen to make their sentiments directly known to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Albay regarding the continued operations of Lafayette Mining Corporation in their island. In a very clear and unequivocal language, they demanded the closure of the mine and the cessation of Lafayette's operations and have asked that the Albay SP issue a resolution that reflects the Rapu-Rapu residents' stance. They were joined and supported by environmental and church groups together with people's organizations in this regard.

What is preventing the Albay SP from heeding a direct manifestation of a community's will on an issue?

The declaration of a provincial board member that "the provincial government has no power to close Lafayette" is debatable. But what is for certain is that the Albay SP, as the people's representative precisely, CAN issue a resolution demanding its closure if it so decides. Again, what stops this legislative body from deciding to act on the Rapu-Rapu residents' clear desire to have a resolution supporting their cause?

Earlier this year, DENR Sec. Angelo Reyes granted the Australian-owned mining firm the permit to resume its operations notwithstanding the still unresolved risk issues surrounding its initial closure. Reyes had declared the renewed operations of the mines safe without actually inspecting the mine site; he then announced that the DENR had deemed Lafayette ready to resume its mining operations. Citing lack of evidences regarding the dangers and detrimental effects of Lafayette's mines, Reyes chose to ignore scientific data presented by reputed experts who nonetheless declared the mine's operations unsafe.

Is this the same track of mind the Albay SP is adopting in the face of Rapu-Rapu residents' Kampong Bayan?

If the Albay SP remains undecided on the issue because of "conflicting" scientific data, then perhaps it can choose to yield to what is unmistakable: the people's - those whom they supposedly represent - rejection of Lafayette. It can choose to issue a resolution against Lafayette's operations in the name of the people whose interests they have sworn to uphold.

Unless, of course, the Albay SP is looking after someone else's interests on the matter.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lafayette Mining Ltd. official advisory - 18 Dec. 2007

FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, 18 December 2007
http://www.lafayettemining.com/documents/ASX%202007-55%20-%20Voluntary%20Administration-181207.pdf

VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION

The Board of Directors of Lafayette Mining Limited (Lafayette or the Company) appointed Messrs Rod Sutton and Peter McCluskey of Ferrier Hodgson today as joint and several Administrators of the Company pursuant to section 436A of the Corporations Act 2001.

The Administrators will immediately take control of the Company’s business, property and affairs.

As has been advised to the ASX, the Company has been working for several months with key stakeholders to restructure and recapitalise the Company which has a 74% interest in Rapu-Rapu Processing, Inc., located in the Philippines.

On 4 October 2007, non-binding term sheets were executed by the Company and the banks with a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) owned by a prospective Cornerstone Investor and the South East Asian Strategic Asset Fund (SEASAF). These term sheets outlined the basis of a series of transactions which could have recapitalised and restructured the Company. As part of these arrangements, a binding Option Deed was executed by the banks and the SPV under which the SPV was granted the right, but not the obligation, to purchase the bank debt exposure at a price which represented a discount to the face value of the debt. For a variety of reasons, the SPV elected not to exercise the option which expired on 30 November 2007.

Since that date, the Company and the banks have received a further proposal from SEASAF and a new group of financial investors. This proposal was similar in structure to the proposal announced on 4 October 2007, and since the date of its receipt it has been the subject of review by the banks.

As time has elapsed, the level of certainty that the series of agreements between the prospective investors, the banks and Lafayette (and other project and Company stakeholders), that are needed to ensure that Lafayette could continue to meet its obligations as an when they fell due, has diminished to a level that the Board of Directors of Lafayette no longer considers that they have reasonable grounds to continue to hold this view.

The Administration process will allow all options for either the sale of the operations or a restructure and recapitalisation of the Lafayette group to be fully explored.

It is expected that further details of the Administration process will be announced to the ASX by the Administrators in the near future.

Aussie miner Lafayette's woes hit Philippine units

Agence France-Presse
Last updated 09:29pm (Mla time) 12/18/2007
http://business.inquirer.net/money/breakingnews/view_article.php?article_id=107619


MANILA, Philippines -- Lafayette Mining's Philippines units are to seek court protection from creditors after their Australian parent went into administration, a company official said Tuesday.

Lafayette will file a petition in the Philippines to continue normal operations, said Carlos Dominguez, chairman and president of Lafayette Philippines.

There were ongoing talks with potential new investors, he said.

The Lafayette firms operate the Rapu-Rapu metals mine in the Bicol region south of Manila, a showcase project from the Philippines' newly revived minerals sector.

In Australia, Lafayette Mining Ltd. said two administrators had been appointed and will immediately take control of the company's business, property and affairs.

"The company has been working for several months with key stakeholders to restructure and recapitalize the company which has a 74 percent interest in Rapu Rapu Processing Inc., located in the Philippines," Lafayette said on its website.

Rapu-Rapu mine firm runs to court for shield vs. creditors

December 19, 2007
Updated 18:03:08 (Mla time)
Ephraim Aguilar
Southern Luzon Bureau

http://services.inquirer.net/express/07/12/19/html_output/xmlhtml/20071219-107786-xml.html


LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines -- Indebted by almost $240 million, the Rapu-Rapu group of companies operating a copper and zinc mine in Rapu-Rapu island town in Albay will seek court protection from creditors even as it denied claims by anti-mining groups that the mine firm has gone bankrupt.

Carlos G. Dominguez, chairman and president of Lafayatte Philippines Inc., which oversees the Rapu-Rapu group of companies, said they are filing a petition for rehabilitation so the mining firm can continue normal operations.

"It is the best way to protect all our stakeholders, particularly, our host communities, employees, and the environment," Dominguez said in a press statement sent to the Inquirer on Tuesday.

Earlier, the board of directors of Lafayette Mining Ltd., parent firm of LPI, decided to subject the company under voluntary administration after it "deemed that it could not continue to meet its obligations (to the creditors)."

Voluntary administration, according to Australian website www.bankrupt.com.au, is a mechanism for companies in financial distress to obtain some breathing space from its creditors.

It is a procedure under Australian law that allows a company to avoid liquidation and to have the company administered in such a way that maximizes the chances of the company and its business to continue, or if it cannot continue, to allow a better return for the company's creditors and shareholders.

Clemente Bautista, convener of anti-mining alliance Defend Patrimony, said that "voluntary administration" simply meant that the Australian-owned mine firm has gone bankrupt and that the banks are now taking over their operations.

NOT BANKRUPT

However, Bayani Agabin, LPI spokesperson and legal counsel, said the company is not bankrupt because its debts have not exceeded its assets.

"It is the best strategy to make the continuing of our operations viable," Agabin said in mobile phone interview.

He said the petition for rehabilitation, once granted by the Philippine court, will protect the company from cases to be filed by creditors.

Agabin said the petition will go with a company rehabilitation plan which shall consist of strategies to resolve the company's financial issues with an assurance to the creditors that it will be able to pay its debt in the future.

He said a rehabilitation plan might take between two to 10 years to implement.

Agabin explained that the mine firm's heavy debt burden was caused by the long periods of suspension by the government after the mine tailings spill in 2005.

He added that the calamities that struck the province, like supertyphoon "Reming" late last year, also inflicted losses on the company's assets.

LPI operates a 180-hectare open pit mine occupying 81 percent of the island town's land area.

Its operations have been highly-criticized by anti-mining groups, who have been blaming the mining company for tailings spills and fish kills since 2005.

Rapu Rapu group to file for rehab

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Last updated 03:37:00 12/19/2007

http://business.inquirer.net/money/topstories/view/20071219-107726/Rapu_Rapu_group_to_file_for_rehab


MANILA, Philippines -- The Rapu Rapu group of companies will seek court protection this week from creditors following a decision of its Australian parent, Lafayette Mining Ltd., to go under voluntary administration, its top Philippine official said.

Carlos Dominguez, chairman and president of Lafayette Philippines, which oversees the Rapu Rapu group, said the Philippine units would file a petition for rehabilitation so they could continue normal operations.

He said this was the best way to protect the group’s stakeholders, particularly its host communities, employees and the environment.

The rehabilitation petition is expected to result in a court order instructing the group’s present creditors and suppliers to continue their services and transactions with the local companies for as long as they were paid on cash basis, the group said in a statement.

Debt payments, under the petition, will be suspended until the court has approved a rehabilitation plan that will fairly settle all outstanding debts and ensure the continued operations of the company.

The voluntary administration of Lafayette Mining was reached after its board deemed that it could not continue to meet its obligations as and when they fell due.

Following Australian rules, two administrators have been appointed to take control of Lafayette Mining and to find ways to lighten the company’s debt burden through the sale or restructuring of bank debts and/or raise new capital.

“In the end, the administration process in Australia and the rehabilitation in the Philippines will make the local units stronger financially by addressing its longstanding issues regarding under-capitalization, over-borrowing and poor hedging deals,” Dominguez said.

Negotiations with new investors are still continuing, he said. Based on current term sheets, the investors will put in new money into the local units and buy the debt papers, wiping out its debts and allowing the operating companies to use its income for operations and community projects.

“This temporary legal process we are going through is actually a blessing for the Rapu Rapu project because it will finally resolve the financial issues the local management team has been urging Lafayette Mining to address,” Dominguez said.

Edited by INQUIRER.net

Will the real leaders and residents of Rapu-Rapu, please stand up?

So the Inquirer may know.

This is a rejoinder to the PDI news article "Give us jobs, Rapu-Rapu folk challenge militants" (12 December 2007, page A11).

1. “The leaders and residents of Rapu-Rapu in Albay” who released the press statement do not represent the majority opinion in Rapu-Rapu. The phrase and general tone of the article imply that these “leaders and residents” voice the general sentiment in Rapu-Rapu. Not by a mile, or 10 kilometers for that matter.

2. They challenge the militants to help the “poor mining community” find jobs. If Lafayette actually provides them poor mining community-members with viable livelihood, as company officials claim, why do they still remain poor? What about the much bigger and native poor fishing community? What have they got after Lafayette started mining their island? They have gotten poorer.

3. “These outsiders are risking our future and our lives in the name of the environment.” If there is one sentence that may model for being a mix of irony, oxymoron and convoluted logic, this may be it. Now, now, do they mean all those opposed to mining in Rapu-Rapu are only/mainly outsiders? Are they saying the majority of Rapu-Rapu's residents not against Lafayette mining their island? Excuse me, will the real outsiders, please stand up? Baker, Quartermaine, Dominguez, Agabin, Calleja, and the rest of Lafayette’s minions, yes you, all of you.

4. “Their real advocacy is to keep us poor and desperate and we all know why. And they get paid for what they do.” Who they? I’m not sure I know why exactly? But I sure know I don't get paid for what I do. If the people behind the press release want to poise the old “these commies only want to topple the government by agitating the masses” line, fine. I leave it to the leftists to defend themselves and answer that. Then again, the broad alliance of anti-Lafayette groups embraces a wide spectrum of society, including the Church, the academe, NGOs, and many common people. How do they take that to account? Simple: let’s not confuse the masses, just single out the leftists, they’re easy target and it makes for good PR. Unless you haven't been to Rapu-Rapu (I mean the island’s barangays, not the mine site, especially when you’ve only taken the company's sanitized mine tour), and you're blind and deaf, here's an open secret for you: it's Lafayette who's making the island's residents poorer and more desperate.

5. “The militants and even some Church people had resorted to lying to scare the public of non-existent disasters they blame on the project.” They’re so unlike the Lafayette guys who are all honorable men and women.

They promised to bring prosperity to Rapu-Rapu and protect the environment. Then they applied for very generous tax cuts and the 2005 fish kills happened. But they say the tax cuts were all legal and they repented for causing the mine spill and subsequent fish kills, though they still won’t own up to the fish scare. They even came up with a kilometric slogan: “It is better to light a candle for responsible mining than just to curse the darkness of past environmental sins.” For the Lafayette guys are all honorable men and women.

Another round of fish kill incidents happened on 13, 21 and 22 July 2006, well within the 30-day test run. Lafayette officials were quick to cry sabotage and hoax. A company lawyer even went as far as laying the blame on a priest assigned in Rapu-Rapu. The DENR chose to ignore these fish kill incidents and proceeded to permit Lafayette to operate as before. These militants and priests are so unlike the Lafayette and DENR guys who are all honorable men and women.

Lafayette provides jobs for Rapu-Rapu. In May 2007, a company official boasted that they employ a whooping total of 131 Rapu-Rapu locals among their personnel. 131 is less than 0.5% of the town’s total population. Most of these workers splurge on a salary of around P6,000 a month. How generous of the company. How dare these militants and priests take the cudgel for the environment and the rest of the town’s population. Why can’t they be like the Lafayette guys who are all honorable men and women.

The most recent fish kill in Rapu-Rapu was observed from 27 October to 2 November 2007. The people in Poblacion witnessed it. People from other barangays witnessed similar incidents in their places too. The number of food poisoning cases was up not just in Poblacion but in other barangays as well. But the chairs of five barangays declared no fish kill happened in their places. Besides, a Pagcolbon resident, one Mr. Ananias Balato also said so. Lafayette officials said so. And the DENR ever so quickly and obligingly concurred. Why shan’t we not believe them? They are all honorable men and women.

6. Greenpeace has never assumed leadership role among “militant anti-mining groups”. Though I won’t necessary mind if they would. Rather, the anti-Lafayette campaign has been run by a loose alliance of environmentalist groups, both local and international. This is but a minor detail though indicative of lazy and haphazard news gathering and research. And, by the way, Bishop Arturo Bastes is still the Bishop of Sorsogon.

7. “Allegations of mercury contamination were never substantiated and were even declared a hoax by supporters of the mining operation.” Calling all fish kill incidents a hoax and a result of sabotage is now a widely-recognized standard Lafayette excuse. Also it is an observed human trait that when one lies so many times, there comes a point when even the liar believes his own lies.

There were traces of mercury found in fish samples from Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon, that were collected around the same time as the 2005 fish kills in Rapu-Rapu. Ex-Vice-Governor James Calisin of Albay, a staunch mining supporter, requested the NBI to investigate whether that one was a hoax, and publicly announced his move on many occasions, in tones that appear to mock and attempt to threaten anti-Lafayette groups. Until now, the NBI has not publicly identified any alleged hoaxers nor even come out with any report. Yet Lafayette officials have already branded that one a hoax.

Then again, why concentrate only on mercury? What about the presence of cyanide or other toxic chemicals? What about the high acid level of certain bodies of water near the mine site? Why have Lafayette private security personnel and their "subsidized" barangay security personnel maintain a policy of harassing researchers and preventing them from getting soil and water samples even when research is done outside company property?

8. “I live here and I can tell you we had a perfectly normal life until these outsiders started telling the world we had a fish kill.” So allegedly said Pagcolbon resident Mr. Balato (apparently, that’s his real name). First, most residents of Rapu-Rapu, including, I daresay, those who signed the press release, could not honestly say they have been living a perfectly normal life since the mining company started operations on their island. Second, those who reported that fish kill was also sighted in Pagcolbon were also residents of Pagcolbon.

Residents from Binosawan even claimed that fish kill was sighted in their place as early as 26 October 2007. The newly-elected barangay chair of Binosawan, Ms. Nida Bendal, testified that fish kill happened in her barangay, contrary to a so-called certification given by the former barangay chair. In fact, she also claimed Lafayette security personnel were seen in her barangay, collecting dead fish then burying them. She was also among those who actively joined the Kampo ng Bayan in front of the Albay Capitol.

In Malobago, a young boy, about 9 years-old, volunteered to an independent researcher that he saw a Lafayette security guard collecting dead fish and burying them. The young boy’s testimony was recorded on the researcher’s videocam.

Bishop Lucilo Quiambao, Apostolic Administrator of Legazpi, narrates in his pastoral letter: “In one instance, a resident from Brgy. Carogcog, who was interviewed by a team from the (DENR-)EMB, also testified that he saw dead fish littering the shorelines of his barangay. This detail never found its way to the (DENR-)EMB report.”

9. The press release also chided certain priests “who prefer to just stay in the comfort of Lega(z)pi City”. The priests assigned in Rapu-Rapu, current and past, have long journeyed together with their parishioners in their common struggle against large-scale mining on the island. If Bishop Quiambao and the 70-plus clergy, who also affixed their signature, could release a pastoral letter on the recent fish kill, it was, among other things, because they believed in the testimony of the priests and parishioners of the island. The Rapu-Rapu priests’ integrity, lack of personal agenda, and love for their parishioners, are beyond question. Could that be said, too, of the people behind the press release? Why haven’t the Inquirer asked, in the first place, Father Andy Baliwas, SOLT, and Father Jerry Llona, SOLT, the priests currently ministering in Rapu-Rapu, if it wanted some semblance of balance in its article?

10. “Government experts, however, ruled out the project as the cause of a supposed fish kill, which is more than 10 kilometers away.” First, the fish kill really happened. Second, so-called government experts have never really ruled out the project as the cause of the fish kill. They do exhibit a tendency to attempt to hastily absolve Lafayette from any culpability. Yet nowhere in any government report has Lafayette been conclusively discounted as the cause of the recent fish kill.

Third, the DENR-EMB report is hounded by allegations of withholding data perceived to be unfavorable to the mining company. And BFAR is receiving so much flak locally after its officials offered their theories in local radio interviews on how the fish kill might have happened. The more infamous of their theories is the one which had the fish drowning due to strong sea currents and lack of oxygen.

Both Governor Joey Salceda of Albay and Bishop Quiambao find the DENR-EMB report questionable in some of its parts. BFAR until now has yet to publicly release a copy of its report. Yet Lafayette officials bandy about here and abroad the false claim that they have been cleared of any culpability on the recent fish kill by very credible government experts.

As to the contention that the fish kill was too far away from the mine site, Bishop Quiambao chided the DENR-EMB in his pastoral letter for not taking into consideration the direction and speed of the wind and water current at the time of the fish kill. He wrote: “Seasoned fisherfolk and astute observers not only point out this fact, but also how the (DENR-)EMB conveniently took this fact aside.”

Ateneo de Naga University’s INECAR, headed by Dr. Emelina Regis, conducted their own research on the fish kill and concluded, among other things, that: “It was impossible for the source of the poison that killed the fishes to originate from the town proper because of the heavy rains and wind direction (on) 26-27 October 2007. If this (were) the case, the dead fishes (would) have floated farther west of the island. Thus, the poison could have only come from the eastern section of the island.” The mine site is located in that section of the island.

11. The real leaders and representatives of the residents of Rapu-Rapu have already stood up. In fact, they have pitched camp in front of the Albay capitol for a week. They have sought and have been able to get time to talk with the Provincial Board who grudgingly agreed to listen to them. The Board Members have assured them that they would take appropriate action.

The Inquirer wasn’t there. While most, if not all, local media covered the events that unfolded during the Kampo ng Bayan, the Inquirer’s Southern Luzon Bureau wasn’t there. If somebody was there, s/he would have filed a news report. If an Inquirer reporter was there and filed a report, why was it not published?

Apparently, the Inquirer chose to believe they were all “militant outsiders”. The news article mentioned Sagip Isla as among the militant groups present there. The fact: Sagip Isla – Sagip Kapwa , a group composed mainly of Rapu-Rapu residents, was the main organizer of the activity. The group counted a minimum of 350 Rapu-Rapu residents to have participated in that week-long activity. Why did the Inquirer choose not to believe them and instead choose a patently Lafayette-sponsored press release, and then run it on the very last day of the camp? Methinks the article was a ploy to undermine the gains of the Kampong Bayan.

Poetic justice had its way when on the day the Inquirer came up with that press-release-turned-news-story that had Rapu-Rapu residents denouncing the militants and the Church, ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol World ran a video coverage of Sagip Isla members barging inside the Provincial Board’s meeting hall and getting their voices heard not just by the dawdling Board Members but by the entire country (and the world) on national TV.

Some final questions for the Inquirer: Who was the anonymous journalist who wrote that article? Who was/were the editor/s that allowed that piece of yellow journalism to be printed? How green may the Inquirer still claim itself to be?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another Lafayette-sponsored press release

But, et tu Inquirer?
No author.
Not on the online edition.
Sniff, sniff,
the smell of Lafayette's
Community Relations office
is rather strong on this one.
Whatever happened to
Balanced News, Fearless Views?
Oh well...
Our response at the next blog.
Abangan.

Give us jobs, Rapu-Rapu folk challenge militants
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12 December 2007, page A11

LEADERS AND RESIDENTS of Rapu-Rapu in Albay yesterday challenged militant groups to help the poor mining community and create jobs should they succeed in getting Lafayette’s polymetallic project on the island closed down.

“These outsiders are risking our future and our lives in the name of the environment. Their real advocacy is to keep us poor and desperate and we all know why. And they get paid for what they do,” the residents said in a joint press statement signed by barangay chairmen, councilors and residents, who said the militants and even some Church people had resorted to lying to scare the public of non-existent disasters they blame on the project.

Militant anti-mining groups led by Greenpeace have opposed the mining project in the area. A commission, headed by then Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, said mining spills had contaminated coastal areas with mercury and other toxic chemicals, diminishing local fishermen’s catch and causing skin diseases among some of the residents.

But allegations of mercury contamination were never substantiated and were even declared a “hoax” by supporters of the mining operation.

“It is not true that there was a fishkill in Pagcolbon, where the project is, and in neighboring barangays. I live here and I can tell you we had a perfectly normal life until these outsiders started telling the world we had a fishkill,” said the press statement quoting Pagcolbon resident Ananias Balato.

“The world believed these because Rapu-Rapu is so remote that there was no immediate way of checking. But if only people can come and see for themselves, including the priests who prefer to just stay in the comfort of Legaspi City, they would realize they are actually putting at risk our present and our future without any basis,” he was quoted as saying.

Militants associated with Sagip Isla, Gabriela, Bayan and other groups have camped out in a park in Legaspi City to ask for the closure of the project because of the supposed fish kill.

Government experts, however, ruled out the project as the cause of a supposed fishkill, which is more than 10 kilometers away.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

LAFAYETTE IS GOING DOWN, DOWN, DOWN!

UPDATE 3-Australia's Lafayette moves to avoid bankruptcy

http://www.reuters.com/article/privateEquity/idUSSYD14691620071218?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true

SYDNEY, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Australia-listed Lafayette Mining (LAF.AX: Quote, Profile, Research) entered voluntary administration on Tuesday to avoid bankruptcy and give it time to obtain new capital or to sell its troubled Philippine mining business.

Lafayette was the first foreign company to operate a mine in the Philippines after a law granting full foreign ownership of local projects was upheld in 2004.

But cyanide spills in 2005 shut the copper and zinc mine for more than a year, causing huge financial strain and making the Australian owner the poster child for the perils of large-scale mining in a country deeply suspicious of the sector.

The ensuing uproar hampered government plans to attract billions of dollars in foreign investments to the minerals industry but after a period of quiet, big players are testing the waters and Lafayette's financial distress is unlikely to put off the industry's slow revival.

"Mining companies always have lessons learned and cautionary tales and Lafayette always comes up," said Tom Green, executive director of Pacific Strategies and Assessments, a risk consultancy.

"The mining companies are well aware of Lafayette's woes over this thing and what they went through. They were aware of it before they started to come in."

Environmental campaigners, who have kept up the pressure on Lafayette since the spills on the central island of Rapu Rapu, saw the group's financial difficulties as a victory.

"We hope this development will lead to the permanent closure of mining operations in Rapu Rapu," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator for environmental group Kalikasan-PNE.

But Carlos Dominguez, the chairman of the Lafayette's Philippine operations, said the mine and its 1,000 strong workforce would continue working until the Australia-based administrator told them otherwise.

"We have no plans to shut down the mine. We will stay open for as long as it is profitable," Dominguez told Reuters.

He said the project, 350 km (218 miles) southeast of Manila, was forecast to generate net cash operating income of $52 million on gross revenues of $105 million in its 2007/08 fiscal year.

A bailout plan under consideration by a private equity group, South East Asian Strategic Asset Fund, would have eliminated around A$300 million ($260 million) of Lafayette's debt and bad hedges with the help of a $151 million capital raising.

Late last month, Lafayette said crucial financial support from the private equity group was a possibility. But on Tuesday it said that the level of certainty over the plan had declined, and it had no grounds to continue to hold that view.

Australia-based administrator Ferrier Hodgson has now been appointed to take control of the the company and its property.

The Rapu Rapu mine had been forecast to turn out 10,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, 14,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate, 50,000 ounces of gold, and 600,000 ounces of silver annually.

LG International Corp (001120.KS: Quote, Profile, Research) and state-run Korea Resources Corp together hold a 26 percent stake in the mine. (Reporting by James Regan; Additional reporting by Carmel Crimmins in Manila; editing by Jan Dahinten)

UPDATE 2 - Australia's Lafayette moves to avoid bankruptcy

http://money.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=338111


SYDNEY, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Australia-listed Lafayette Mining (LAF.AX

LAF.AX , 0.015, +0, +0%) said on Tuesday it had entered voluntary administration, a step aimed at getting around liquidation, to give it time to obtain new capital or to sell its Philippine mining business.

Lafayette Ltd's Rapu Rapu mine was the first foreign-owned mine to operate in the Philippines after a law granting full foreign ownership of local mining projects was upheld in 2004.

Cyanide spills in 2005 shut the copper and zinc mine for more than a year and triggered a storm of protest from environmental groups and Catholic bishops that seriously hampered government plans to attract billions of dollars into the sector.

The shutdown, plus damage from a trio of typhoons, left Lafayette with restoration costs and temporarily halted revenues.

Carlos Dominguez, the chairman of the group's Philippine operations, said the mine and its 1,000 strong workforce would continue working until the Australia-based administrator told them otherwise.

"We have no plans to shut down the mine. We will stay open for as long as it is profitable," Dominguez told Reuters.

He said the mine, which is 350 km (218 miles) southeast of Manila, was forecast to generate net cash operating income of $52 million on gross revenues of $105 million in its 2007/08 fiscal year.

A bailout plan under consideration by a private equity group, South East Asian Strategic Asset Fund, would have eliminated around A$300 million ($260 million) of Lafayette's debt and bad hedges with the help of a $151 million capital raising.

Late last month, Lafayette said crucial financial support from the private equity group was a possibility. But on Tuesday it said that the level of certainty over the plan had declined, and it had no grounds to continue to hold that view.

Australia-based administrator Ferrier Hodgson has now been appointed to take control of the the company and its property.

The Rapu Rapu mine had been forecast to turn out 10,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, 14,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate, 50,000 ounces of gold, and 600,000 ounces of silver annually.

LG International Corp <001120.ks> and state-run Korea Resources Corp together hold a 26 percent stake in the mine.

Environmental campaigners in the Philippines said they were happy about Lafayette's financial difficulties.

"We are elated about this development. This is the fruit of a long struggle by the residents of Rapu Rapu Island," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator for environmental group Kalikasan-PNE."

"We hope this development will lead to the permanent closure of mining operations in Rapu Rapu." (Reporting by James Regan; Additional reporting by Carmel Crimmins in Manila; editing by Jan Dahinten)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mining never reduced poverty: UP economist

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/gen/2007/12/10/bus/mining.never.reduced.poverty.up.economist.html
Monday, December 10, 2007


KORONADAL CITY--Large-scale mining ventures have not reduced poverty incidence in host municipalities, an economic expert said here.

Speaking at a forum dubbed as "Cost Benefit Analysis of Mining" last Tuesday, Arturo Boquiren, assistant professor of economics at the University of Philippines-Baguio, stressed such point using the Benguet experience as model, where large scale mining activities have been ongoing for nearly 100 years.

The corporate or large-scale mining companies operating in the Benguet towns of Mangkayan, Itogon and Tuba are Lepanto Mining, Benguet Consolidated and Philex Mines. They are exploiting copper and gold deposits.

Boquiren said that large-scale mining projects need not be an option for municipalities and cities to have a higher growth path.

"Non-mining areas perform just as "good" as mining areas and, thus, communities or local government units that want their cities or municipalities to take-off and take a higher growth path need not embrace large-scale mining," he said.

He noted that there are environment-friendly alternatives that local government units rich in mineral deposits can explore, such as farming, to have a higher growth path.

Stressing that the objective of his study is to value Benguet's biodiversity and execute a benefit-cost analysis of mining, Boquiren said the net benefits flowing from Benguet biodiversity on an annual basis are at least $591.6 million.

The total value of net benefits over 25 years amount to $14.8 billion with a net present value of $5.9 billion using a discount rate of 12 percent and P51.785 to a dollar, he added.

"On the other hand, large scale mining can result to a very large net or social economic loss. Given an annual revenue of P6.9 billion, the net social or economic loss can be as much as P92.7 billion per annum, or as much as P1.16 trillion if all the Benguet metals are extracted in one scoop," Boquiren said.

Comparing mining and non-mining communities in Benguet, Mr. Boquiren said poverty incidence for the former was pegged at 35.87 percent involving a population of 119,573 (2000 census) while for the latter was 22.11 percent involving a population of 462,942 population.

"If corporate or large-scale mining is indeed good for Benguet municipalities, then poverty incidence should be very low in the corporate mining towns of Mankayan, Tuba and Itogon. After all, large scale mining has been in Mankayan for at least 71 years, 49 years in Tuba and around 91 years in Itogon," Boquiren said.

He also claimed that mortality due to cancer in the three large-scale mining areas is high at 38.97 percent although the towns are only 32.63 percent of the Benguet population.

"Jointly, the three municipalities where large-scale mining is present have a mortality rate due to cancer of 44.29 percent per 100,000 population. In contrast the rest of the 10 towns in Benguet have a combined mortality rate due to cancer of only 33.59 percent per 100,000 population," Boquiren explained.

But the economic expert clarified that a conclusive study is still needed to validate if mining activities indeed caused higher cancer rates to the three towns.

Albay governor seeks Lafayette closure

LEGAZPI CITY -- Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda is now seeking the closure of Lafayette Philippines mining operation in the island town of Rapu-Rapu until such time that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has concluded its investigation on the latest incident of fishkill that had been reported in the area.

"If mining operations can not be discounted as probable cause for the toxic chemicals that triggered the fishkill, there is no other recourse for the provincial government but to seek its (the mining firm's) closure," Salceda told the Bicol Mail.

Salceda disclosed that the Environmental Management Bureau had released its initial findings regarding the fishkill incident in Rapu-Rapu last October 28 following heavy rains that hit the area.

Based on initial report by the EMB, there was no cyanide contamination and that the area was within "cyanide standard" which would not have caused fish kill.

A number of dead fish were found floating along the shorelines by residents some eight to ten kilometers away from the mine site after the heavy rains.

But Salceda appeared unconvinced by the initial findings of EMB Bicol.

"The EMB report being initial, we need the BFAR Report," he said, adding that "in the meantime, I am ordering the provincial agricultural service (PAS) and provincial cooperative and entrepreneur development office (PCEDO) to work out measures to counter possible negative consequences of the fishkill on livelihood."

Protest march
Last October 31, thousands of the villagers in Rapu-Rapu town conducted a protest march against the operation of Lafayette and sought for the immediate closure of the mining plant.

Antonio Casitas, head servant of the Sagip Isla-Sagip Kapwa, Inc. led the protest action held at the Municipal Hall.

They demanded the municipal government to immediately petition for the closure of Lafayette due to recurring fishkill incidents.

The people demanded for the immediate release of assistance and compensation to affected communities.

Cecile Calleja, LPI vice-president for corporate affairs, was reportedly requesting that she be allowed to talk on behalf of the mining company but was flatly rejected by the protesters.

The villagers also asked the municipal officials to declare Rapu-Rapu as a calamity area.

"Declaring Rapu-Rapu as calamity area will be good to the people as well as for our campaign (against mining)," Parish Priest Fr. Felino Bagauisan told the Bicol mail.

He said meager as it may be, any assistance extended to the affected residents would be of help as they had suffered enough due to damages wrought by the mining operations.

Meanwhile, Lafayette Philippines Inc., through its lawyer, explained that the there was no mining operation when the reported fishkill took place.

But Bugauisan dismissed Lafayette�s argument as irrelevant. �What is relevant is the fact that there exists an impounded volume of poison at the mercy of rain which can overflow anytime,� he said.

As of this writing, villagers of Poblacion in Rapu-Rapu town claimed they feared about eating fish because of possible contamination.

"How many fishkills will it take before Lafayette owns up to its mistakes? How many Rapu-Rapu residents have to go hungry before the Philippine government closes the mine for good?" Baguaisan asked.

Bishop blames fish kill in Rapu-rapu on mining company

By FLORENCIO P. NARITO
http://www.mb.com.ph/issues/2007/12/02/PROV20071202110406.html

LEGAZPI CITY – Monsignor Lucilo Quiambao, acting bishop of Legazpi, has sought the closure of Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI), a mining company, for allegedly causing the Oct. 28, 2007 "fish kill" in the island municipality of Rapu-rapu, Albay.

In a radio interview and in a pastoral letter, Quiambao said there had been no "fish kill" in the waters of Rapu-rapu before the Australian mining firm started its operation.

He laughed at a report that the fish had died of drowning. The report allegedly came from government sources.

"Dr. Luis Mendoza, Albay provincial health officer, said he is willing to testify that three children had been hospitalized in Rapu-rapu after eating shellfish believed to have been contaminated with poisonous chemicals from Lafayette," the bishop said.

Quiambao quoted Dr. Ermelita Regis of the Ateneo de Naga University, said to be an expert on mining, as saying that "if the rocks and soil are disturbed, the acid flows into the sea and kills the fish.

"Mining is second to machineries and factories as pollutants that affect the ozone layer," Quiambao said.

"The government should honestly accept the reality in Rapu-rapu and the truth should come out," he also said.

Some residents here, however, said that the good bishop and his anti-mine groups had already made their conclusions even before the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has come out with its findings on what really caused the "fish kill."

In an interview, Doctor Mendoza denied having linked Lafayette to the hospitalization of the three children in Rapu-rapu.

"Bishop Quiambao must have misquoted me because what I actually said was that the three children had been hospitalized after eating shellfish, but I did not say that the shellfish was contaminated with poisonous chemical from Lafayette," Mendoza said.

Reacting to the statements and pastoral letter of Bishop Quiambao, lawyer Bayani Agahin, LPI spokesman, said: "To settle the matter once and for all and to stop the anti-mining groups from using the Church, we have invited the good bishop and his panel of experts and even the anti-mining groups and the media to visit Rapu-rapu and the mining site of Lafayette. We have nothing to hide."

Agabin said that according to government authorities and experts as well as barangay officials, there was no "fish kill" as the project is far from the place where the alleged "fish kill" was found.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Public Hearing without the Public

What really happened on 7 December 2007?

After the Provincial Board, headed by Vice Governor Brando Sael, promised to hold a public hearing and conduct an investigation into the recent fish kill in Rapu-Rapu and on the Lafayette mining operations on the island, Board Member Celso Aytona who chairs the Committee on Environment scheduled a hearing of his committee.

The hearing was postponed two times. In both instances, the invited guests were not informed beforehand. The last time it was postponed, Aytona nor any of his staff did not even bother to inform anyone that the entire Board was scheduled for some out of town trip. Engr. Virgilio Perdigon, Dean of Aquinas University’s Polytechnic Institute and one of the invited speakers, could only fume in disgust at the lapses.

Finally, on 7 December, the Committee on Environment had a hearing. And what a hearing it was. Lafayette’s representatives were there, so were those from the DENR, EMB, BFAR, and 2 town councilors and 4 barangay chairs from Rapu-Rapu. Perdigon did not make it this time. Seeing that the panel of invited guests in attendance were generally perceived to be in favor of the mining company and in denial of the recent fish kills, several representatives from the people’s organizations who staged the Kampo ng Bayan in front of the capitol went to join the gallery and asked to be given time to testify also.

From the start the PO’s representatives, who were mostly Rapu-Rapu residents, felt they were not welcome at the hearing. This gut feeling was confirmed when, for some reason, the venue was changed unannounced during a recess. Instead of holding it at the regular Provincial Board Hall, it was held in another room inside the capitol.

When the representatives got wind of the ploy, they looked for and eventually found the new meeting venue. It was then that Aytona forbade them to join the hearing. They tried talking with two other Board Members, Erwin Baldo, Vice Chair of the committee, and Harold Imperial. But the two apparently had no say in the matter, or they too were of the same position as Aytona.

The hearing then proceeded undisturbed from henceforth. The same expected statements were said: Lafayette, its denials; DENR and EMB, its mining-friendly findings; BFAR, that they were still finishing their analysis (but that didn’t prevent their spokespersons to theorize in radio interviews the cause of the fish kill, from fish drowning for lack of oxygen to dynamite fishing). The perceived pro-Lafayette town councilors and barangay chairs also testified to the non-incidence of fish kill in barangays other than Poblacion. Except for one. The barangay chair of Binosauan testified to the presence of fish kill in her barangay.

Outside the capitol, the spurned representatives and Rapu-Rapu residents blasted Aytona’s decision and the one-sided hearing. Speakers took turns presenting the side of the affected residents to the public.

Aytona was heard to have reasoned out that it was a committee hearing, not a public hearing. And that it was his committee anyway. So what was it really, a committee hearing or a public hearing? Is the public not allowed to witness a committee hearing?

Whatever it was, several things came out with greater certainty on 7 December 2007.

  1. The Provincial Board’s Committee on Environment was not interested with the truth. It only wanted to put on official record that it did its job conducting a hearing, no matter if it was a mockery of one, and it was maneuvered in such a way that the consensus coming from it should favor the mining company and undermine the fish kill and its effects.
  2. Celso Aytona is one biased government official. And his bias is obviously not for the environment. He should not chair that committee.
  3. The interests of truth and justice were not served that day. Some others’ interests maybe, but certainly not those of the people of Rapu-Rapu.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Protest against Lafayette mining heats up

Albay board to review memorandum of agreement between Australian firm and provincial govt
By Rhaydz B. Barcia, Correspondent-Manila Times
Posted by Bicol Today on December 6, 2007
http://bicoltoday.wordpress.com/2007/12/06/protest-against-lafayette-mining-heats-up/

Legazpi City: Finally the provincial government of Albay agreed to reinvestigate the fish kill incident off the shores of Rapu-Rapu a month ago and finally settle the issue.

The move came following the appeal made by the villagers from Rapu-Rapu when they stormed the session hall of the Sanguniang Panlalawigan of Albay on Wednesday.

Board Member Raul Borejon, committee on appropriation chairman, urged his colleagues to conduct a reinvestigation of the case that a closure may be reached on the controversial issue.

For his part, Board Member Niel Montallana pushed his colleagues to scrutinize the memorandum of agreement entered into between the provincial government and Lafayette Mining Ltd. during the incumbency of former Albay governor Al Francis Bichara, now a member of the House of Representatives (from the second congressional district of Albay).

Vice-Gov. Brando Sael who relinquished his chair during the session told the protesters and pro-environmentalists to allow due process. “Even though, we’re doing our part in closing down the operation of Lafayette, we still have procedures to follow,” he explained. “We’re also checking if Lafayette was really paying their share to the government’s coffer.” A month ago, Sael passed a resolution for the permanent closure of the mining firm.

Sael also asked Borejon to allocate funds and commission a study of the fish kill in Rapu-Rapu. “We need an independent body to conduct a scientific study and come up with impartial findings because I’m not convinced with the BFAR and DENR findings,” Sael added.
Meanwhile, some 500 villagers from Rapu-Rapu had set up camp in front of the Albay Provincial Capitol demanding that the Australian-owned Lafayette Mining Ltd. be closed down permanently. Likewise, the protesters are demanding compensation for mining-affected communities.

Members of these communities arrived at the Legazpi City pier for a weeklong Kampong Bayan (People’s Camp) in front of the Albay Capitol organized by civic organizations.

Umalpas Ka-Bikol and Sagip Isla Sagip Kapwa, an island-wide environmental organization of Rapu-Rapu residents, jointly organized the Kampong Bayan to be held until December 12. The camp activities will feature a nonstop program filled with daily prayer rallies, speeches of solidarity, discussions, workshops, dialogues, and cultural presentations.

This is the second Kampong Bayan and the fourth protest activity by the villagers of Rapu-Rapu following a fish kill that hit at least five barangays after the heavy rains on October 28, 2007.
Despite denials from Lafayette, the DENR and the BFAR, villagers believe the fish kill is due to the mine operations. Lafayette previously sustained two mine tailing incidents on October 11 and 31 in 2005, causing fish kills in nearby waters and affecting thousands of fisher folk in Albay and Sorsogon.

As this developed, Manila-based environmentalists urged the public to support the Kam­pong Bayan in Bicol. “We exhort all defenders of the environment and national patrimony to extend material, financial, and moral support for the Kampong Bayan initiated against Lafayette Mining Limited,” Clemente Bautista Jr., National Coordinator for Kalika­san-Philippine Network for the Environment said.

Lafayette Mining Ltd. on Monday announced that it would be indefinitely extending the trading halt on its shares in the Australian Stock Exchange soon after a major investor pulled out of the project early this week.

“The financial losses of Lafayette’s foreign shareholders pale in comparison to the losses sustained by thousands of residents in Rapu-Rapu. Around 16,500 of Rapu-Rapu’s 19,000 fisher-folk residents were affected in terms of losses in livelihood,” Antonio Casitas of the Sagip Isla movement said.

Bautista and Casitas urged Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and local government officials to uphold the recommendations of the Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission headed by Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes.

It also recommended that the mining in Rapu-Rapu be subjected to a moratorium and that existing Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements in the island be suspended pending scientific and expert’s favorable resolution on the issue of ecological conservation and the acid mine drainage problem.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Lafayette's Official Advisories

Below are three documents from Lafayette's website (http://www.lafayettemining.com/) detailing the trading halt they have been compelled to do at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) after the pull-out of a major investor. Though in obvious dire straits, the mining firm still attempts to put a bright optimistic spin to their official updates. Rather understandable if not for the many spins and deceptions Lafayette representatives in the Philippines regularly employ to undermine the extent of the damage the company is inflicting on Rapu-Rapu Island.



NEW PROPOSAL TO RECAPITALISE AND RESTRUCTURE LAFAYETTE AND THE RAPU RAPU PROJECT & NEW SHORT TERM FUNDING FROM BANKS
6 December 2007
http://www.lafayettemining.com/documents/ASX%202007-53%20-%20Suspension%20Update-061207.pdf

Lafayette Mining Limited (Lafayette) wishes to advise that further to its announcement to the market on Monday, 3 December 2007, discussions have continued with project stakeholders with the aim of developing a plan to restructure the financial obligations of the Company and the Rapu Rapu project. As a consequence of those discussions, a new proposal to restructure and recapitalise Lafayette and the Rapu Rapu project has been tabled by CIMB Strategic Asset Advisors Pte Ltd on behalf of South East Asian Strategic Assets Fund LP (SEASAF).

Both Lafayette and the project bank group are currently reviewing and evaluating the proposal. If agreement can be reached by all parties on the terms of the proposal, a restructuring and recapitalisation of Lafayette and the Rapu Rapu project may proceed, subject to shareholder approval.

The directors of Lafayette note that the results of their deliberations and those of the project bank group are not certain at this stage and on that basis, the Company has not requested that the ASX lift the suspension of trading of the Company’s shares.

In the interim, members of the project bank group have agreed to allow Lafayette to access new funding to ensure the solvency of the Company while these initiatives are being explored.



ONGOING DISCUSSIONS REGARDING RECAPITALISATION AND RESTRUCTURING OF LAFAYETTE AND THE RAPU RAPU PROJECT
4 December 2007
http://www.lafayettemining.com/documents/ASX%202007-53%20-%20Trading%20Halt%20Release-041207.pdf

Lafayette Mining Limited (Lafayette) wishes to advise that further to our recent releases to the ASX in relation to the proposed recapitalisation and reconstruction of Lafayette and the Rapu Rapu project, and the decision of the Cornerstone Investor not to exercise their rights under an Option Agreement with the Rapu Rapu bank group, the Company continues to hold discussions with its key stakeholders regarding a new plan that can provide a viable basis for the Company and its Rapu Rapu project to move forward.

During this period of uncertainty, the Company’s shares will continue to remain suspended from trading on the ASX. The Company will update this situation as matters unfold.



30 November 2007
http://www.lafayettemining.com/documents/ASX%202007-52%20-%20Trading%20Halt%20Request-301107.pdf

Mr Nicholas Ong
Australian Securities Exchange
Level 8 Exchange Plaza
2 The Esplanade

PERTH
WA 6000

Dear Mr Ong

LAFAYETTE MINING LIMITED – REQUEST FOR TRADING HALT IN THE COMPANY’S SECURITIES

Lafayette Mining Limited (Lafayette) requests a temporary halt in the trading of the Company’s securities, commencing immediately.

On 4 October 2007, Lafayette announced a proposal to restructure the debt and hedging obligations of the Rapu Rapu project with the aim of recapitalising the project and the Company. The project bank group subsequently granted an exclusive call option to the new investor group, led by a Cornerstone Investor arranged by SEASAF, to acquire the bank group exposure following the completion of a due diligence process.

We have been informed by the Cornerstone Investor that they will not exercise the call option to acquire debt from the project bank group on the terms envisaged.

The trading halt is expected to last until at least 3 December 2007.

The Company is not aware of any reason the trading halt should not be granted.

The Company will make an appropriate announcement to inform the market in due course.


Yours faithfully
Lafayette Mining Limited

Michel Stevering
Company Secretary

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sorsogon bishop and clergy adopt Legazpi Diocese Pastoral Letter on Rapu-Rapu fish kill

Bp. Arturo Bastes of the Diocese of Sorsogon, together with the clergy of the diocese, affixed their signatures to the Pastoral Bulletin written by Bp. Lucilo Quiambao, Apostolic Administrator of Legazpi, on the most recent fish kill in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, on Tuesday, 4 December 2007, during the clergy's weekly get-together at the bishop's residence.

Bp. Bastes said, one of the priests read the pastoral letter and everybody agreed to adopt it as a fitting pastoral response to yet another ecological and socio-economic disaster in Rapu-Rapu. He also pointed out that the town of Prieto Diaz in Sorsogon is much nearer to Rapu-Rapu, than Legazpi City or Sto. Domingo town in Albay.

In 2005, Prieto Diaz has been the site of a fish scare and several cases of illness due to contact with toxic substances. The fish scare in 2005 wreak havoc to the fishing industry of Rapu-Rapu and nearby towns in Albay and Sorsogon. It was the health cases though that prompted Malacañang to create the Rapu-Rapu Fact Finding Commission, with Bp. Bastes as head.

In 2006, the Bastes Commission's final report found Lafayette guilty of two fish kill incidents and the fish scare that ensued because of them. The Commission also recommended the closure of the Lafayette mine. But in February 2007, Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes lifted the DENR's earlier suspension order, thus, permitting the mining firm to commence with its regular operation.

Greens hail ‘end’ of Australian mining project in Rapu-Rapu

By Nora O. Gamolo, Senior Desk Editor
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/dec/05/yehey/top_stories/20071205top4.html

ENVIRONMENTALISTS welcomed news of a trading halt of Australian-owned firm Lafayette Mining Limited this weekend, believing that it signals a possible end to its controversial mining operation on Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay.

The environmentalists have never let up in their opposition to the flagship mining project on Rapu-Rapu island that has allegedly resulted in at least two mine spills and three fish kills since 2005.

The firm was also the subject of a controversial report commissioned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2006 that detailed environmental damages it had wrought, and allegations of faulty reporting of the company’s income that undercut the value of excise taxes it paid to the Philippine government.

Lafayette Mining Ltd. advised a trading halt in the Australian Stock Exchange from November 30 to last until December 3.

The company later decided to continue to suspend trading beyond December 3, with no date indicated to resume trading.

In another letter released on December 4, the Australian management advised an indefinite trading halt as the company “continues to hold discussion with its key stockholders regarding a new plan that can provide a viable basis for the company and its Rapu-Rapu project to move forward.”

“This development is a tactical victory over Lafayette. The investor pullout comes in the wake of strong protests by Rapu-Rapu residents and environmental groups to stop Lafayette’s mining operations as well as a devastating fish kill in October which is widely believed to be related to the mine project,” said Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, in a statement.

In a letter addressed to Nicholas Ong, senior adviser at the Australian Securities Exchange in Perth, and dated November 30, Lafayette Mining Ltd. requested an immediate trading halt in its securities after a new investor group announced its pullout from the Rapu-Rapu mine project.

An investor group had initially planned to buy the company out of its debt obligations of A$269 million, but this apparently fizzled out.

Early in October 2007, Lafayette announced a “major restructuring” and “recapitalization” of the project, which is essentially a buy-out of the bank lending group by a new “Special Purpose Vehicle” (SPV) jointly owned by Cornerstone Investors and South East Asian Strategic Assets Fund LP, a Malaysian private investment firm.

Under the preliminary agreement, the SPV will buy all outstanding debts, capitalized interest and fees owed by the project to the bank group. The SPV will purchase this for a proposed sum of $123 million (50 percent of face value).

Bautista said, “Cornerstone Investor’s pullout from the deal only and Lafayette’s crippling debt obligations only unmask how weak and financially unstable the Rapu-Rapu mining project really is. It is another reason why Lafayette’s mining project in Albay should be terminated immediately.”

As of June 30, Lafayette is “near bankruptcy.” “Based on its annual report, Lafayette has total liabilities of A$348,300,418, with a net loss of A$224,507,576. In 2006, it had a net loss of A$172,202,840.00,” he added.

Rapu-Rapu’s expected suspension of its operations will directly affect 300 workers, only 5 percent of whom are considered regular, and the rest contractual, based on a survey conducted by Ibon Databank.

Rapu-Rapu residents, meanwhile, vowed to launch more intense and massive protest actions calling for the immediate closure of the mine.

Antonio Casitas of Sagip Isla Sagip Kapwa, a local community organization of Rapu-Rapu residents, promised no let-up in current local protest actions against Lafayette, which included protest rallies in front of the provincial capitol in Legazpi City and before the municipal hall in Poblacion since the November fish kills.

Groups opposing the mining plant’s operations are planning to hold starting today, December 5, a third Kampong Bayan or protest encampment to pressure the Rapu-Rapu town government and Albay provincial government to ensure the mine’s full closure.

They are also pressuring the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to release their findings on the third fish kill, which happened in end-October.

Lafayette became controversial after allegedly causing two mine tailings spills that led to fish kills on October 11 and 31 in 2005.

It started operation again in February 2007 after making some 36 corrections in the plant’s operations. Months ago, the plant planned to extend its operations to other areas of the island, all moves of which were strongly opposed by affected communities.

This end-October, another fish kill occurred again, which for environmentalists signaled a possible lapse in the firm’s antipollution measures.

More than 1,000 fishers were affected by the three fish kills that had hit the island.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rapu-Rapu folks stage Kampo ng Bayan in front of Albay Capitol

More than 150 residents of Rapu-Rapu arrived in Legazpi City today. After taking the morning boat trip from the island, they proceeded towards the Provincial Capitol marching through Rizal St., the city's main thoroughfare. They were joined by activists, environmentalists and religious groups, notably, the Redemptorists and the Society of Our Lady of the Trinity (SOLT).

The group pitched camp in front of the capitol to lay claim to what they dubbed as "Kampo ng Bayan". They held speeches and posted streamers expressing the purpose of the gathering: to demand the closure of the Lafayette mine, and kick out the mining firm from the island. Their representatives sat on the gallery of the Provincial Board which held a regular session earlier today. Their advocacy though was not included in the agenda of the meeting.

A public hearing on the fish kill initiated by Committee on Environment Chair Celso Aytona is scheduled on Friday. But after going through 2 postponements already, Rapu-Rapu folks and environmentalists are wary of putting too much hope that the hearing would push through as re-scheduled.

It rained hard starting late afternoon, and though exhausted by the morning's activities, they were still in high spirits. Bishop Quiambao, Apostolic Administrator of Legazpi, came for a quick visit in the afternoon. A longer dialogue with him was set the next day.

The provincial government was gracious enough to grant them permit for the use of the park in front of the capitol and lend them two large tents for their lodging and meeting place. When the rain got too heavy in the evening, making the ground inside the tent too damp for sleeping, Provincial Administrator Leroy Berces allowed them to use the lobby of the capitol as lodging for the night.

The Kampo ng Bayan is expected to last until 12 December 2008. Several activities are lined up for the following days, including a march and rally in front of the offices of the DENR-EMB and BFAR.

Expansion of Lafayette's operation is meeting stiff resistance from various stakeholders

Expansion of Lafayette's operation is meeting stiff resistance from various stakeholders

CIRCA flaunts the Ten Commandments of Climate Change

Commandment Number 7 states: Thou shall not resort to open pit mining . . . to avert climate change. Notice the photo of the CIRCA Executive Director at lower left.

CIRCA Defies SARA Boycott Call

CIRCA Defies SARA Boycott Call

Though blurred, the LG label is still visible on the flat screen.

Evidence that Nong Rangasa suggested to invite mining companies to his LGU Summit + 3i exhibit

Evidence that Nong Rangasa suggested to invite mining companies to his LGU Summit + 3i exhibit
Excerpt from the minutes of the meeting on October 11, 2010