Filipino Bishop disappointed over Lafayette mine decision

Filipino Bishop Arturo Bastes has expressed disappointment at a decision to allow an Australian mining company responsible for two cyanide spills in the Philippines last year to recommence operations.

Authorities suspended operations of Lafayette Mining Ltd in November after the company twice released mining waste with traces of cyanide, a chemical agent used in extracting precious metals from the mineral ore, killing fish in nearby waterways.

Bishop Bastes, who headed a Fact Finding Commission on mining appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, last week called for the closure of Lafayette's open pit mining and mineral processing operations in Rapu-rapu island in Albay province.

The panel's two-month investigation concluded that the company was "guilty of irresponsibility for starting operations prior to the completion of environmental protection infrastructures."

But decision yesterday temporarily lifted its suspension order to check if the remedial measures put in place by Lafayette would work.

Bishop Bastes said the decision ignored the findings of scientists and the clamour of the people for the closure of the mine. "We are only recommending. Sadly, they didn't follow our recommendations. We'll wait what will happen," the prelate said.

FT.com reports that Lafayette's mine was the second mining venture to start commercial operations after the Philippines Supreme Court quashed challenges to the 1995 mining law in December 2004, paving the way for full foreign ownership of large-scale mining ventures.

The President ordered the review of the mining law in March after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a statement calling for a repeal of the 1995 law.

Philippines seeks to reassure mining companies
Rapu Rapu Fact Finding Commission Report
Palace turns down bid to ban mining

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishop Arturo Bastes (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines)
Diocese of Romblon (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines)
Advocates of Science and Technology for the People
Lafayette Mining
Development of the Rapu Rapu Polymetallic Project
Moratorium on mining will deprive Philippines of jobs and growth (Australian Embassy, 22/5/2006)

14 Jun 2006