Saturday, June 14, 2008
A SENIOR Catholic Church official on Friday urged the government for the “total closure” of a controversial copper and zinc mine on Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay due to environmental issues.
The said copper and zinc mine that was temporarily shut down in the past is now being operated by two Korean state-run firms Korean Resources Inc., (Kores) and LG International Corp.
The two Korean firms took over the control of the mining from its previous operator, Lafayette of Australia who pulled out over environmental issues and investors backed out.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said that local residents in the area would only be too happy if the two Korean firms that now operate the mining activities would leave the area.
“The government should impose total closure of the mining there. It has ruined not only the environment but also our economy,” Bastes said in a report that came out at CBCP website.
The Sorsogon bishop said its previous operator, Lafayette went ‘bankrupt’ after its investors, due to public clamour against environmental destruction in the area decided to back out.
“They [Lafayette] have no more investors. They can’t even pay their personnel anymore. It’s no longer financially viable,” Bastes said adding the Australian firm still owes the government P130 million in taxes.
The mining on Rapu-Rapu Island , the bishop said was supposed to be the government’s ‘flagship’ in revitalizing the mining industry in the country, but it turned out to be a big mess.
The zinc and copper mine on Rapu-Rapu Island was forecasted to generate revenues of $350 million a year from annual production of 11,000 tones of copper and 13,000 tones of zinc.
The Kores and LG Group acquired Lafayette ’s majority stake shortly after government issued the mining firm a fine for the spills that contaminated surrounding waters sometime in 2005.
Fisher folks and residents of Rapu-Rapu picketed the South Korean Embassy in Makati City to discourage Korean investors from taking over the mining operation.
The picketers during their rally have urged Ambassador Hong Jong-ki to urge the pullout of the investment of Kores and LG International in the mining operation.