The Filipino management team running the Rapu Rapu mining project in Albay province, southeast of Manila, since January 2006 has resigned after negotiations with Philco Resources Ltd. of South Korea, the project’s new owner, fell through.
Carlos Dominguez, chairman and president of Lafayette Philippines Inc., said his team would leave the project in its best shape.
“We gave priority to the environment, the host communities and our employees,” Dominguez said. “We could have done more had we the proper funding support we needed from day one. But short on funds and swarmed by anti-mining advocates, we will still leave the project as a real asset to the island of Rapu Rapu, the province of Albay, and the Bicol region.”
A transition period will allow the new owners to put its own team in place, he said.
At its start in 2005, the Rapu-Rapu project was considered a showcase for the potential of Philippine mining, as the mining sector gained renewed international investor interest.
Dominguez and his group took over from an Australian team after the project suffered two cyanide spills during heavy rains in late October 2005.
Dominguez that upon taking over said he immediately ordered construction of the project’s dams according to specifications. He said the dams held up well when two strong typhoons, “Milenyo” and “Reming,” lashed the Bicol region in late 2006. He added that systems and procedures were put in place, which obtained ISO 14002 certification for the environment management system.
Dominguez said he also made sure that the community directly benefited from the project through a medical outreach and feeding program, free electricity, better education, and livelihood projects.
To address anti-mining advocacy, Dominguez said, he stumped even the insurgency hotbeds in the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon to explain the project and his vision and mission. He said he also opened the mining site to all critics, many of whom refused the team’s invitation for an ocular inspection and a briefing.
About a year after building up the project to its design, regaining “social license” and a lifting of a suspension order, Dominguez supervised the resumption of operations, only to be thwarted by lack of funds as a result of the long period that the project was not operational.
This resulted in Lafayette Mining Ltd., an Australia-listed company, being put under voluntary administration. The local companies filed a petition for rehabilitation with Pasig City courts in February.
Edited by INQUIRER.net