Thursday, June 12, 2008
First posted: AFP, June 10, 2008
ENVIRONMENTALISTS picketed the South Korean embassy in Manila on Wednesday to demand the closure of a controversial Korean-controlled mine in the eastern Philippines , witnesses said.
The protesters urged LG International and Seoul ’s investment arm, the Korean Resources Corp. (Kores) to pull out of the project.
The South Koreans took over control of the project in April after its previous operator, Lafayette of Australia, pulled out over environmental issues.
“There is no reason to continue the Lafayette mining project. It’s three-year operation in Rapu-Rapu island has brought so much environmental destruction, community displacements, human rights violations and livelihood loss,” the environmental group Kalikasan claimed in a statement.
The LG Group and Kores acquired Lafayette ’s majority stake shortly after the mine was fined for spills that contaminated surrounding waters in 2005.
The Rapu-Rapu project was the first foreign-operated Philippine project to reach the production stage after the Supreme Court upheld the legality of a 1995 mining law that opened the sector to foreign investment.
President Gloria Arroyo has called for more foreign capital into the sector, which she says has huge potential to reduce poverty in hinterland areas where most of the Philippines ’ mineral wealth is located.