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Rapu Rapu polymetallic mine, Philippines

Supposed to be a showcase mine after the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, the Rapu Rapu polymetallic mine, located on Rapu Rapu Island in Southeastern Luzon, has turned an island paradise into a wasteland.


In November, 1998, Australian mining company Lafayette Limited acquired interests in the polymetallic mining site, characterized by copper, gold, zinc and silver reserves. Permissions were granted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in spite of absence of a free prior informed consent obtained by the company from local communities, among them the Taboy indigenous group [1;2]. Mining and processing started in April 2005, but was suspended six months later after two heavy cyanide laden spills were released into water bodies, causing the ecological death of rivers and fish stocks [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Rapu Rapu polymetallic mine, Philippines
State or province:Province of Albay, Southeastern Luzon
Location of conflict: Barangay Binosowan, Pagcolbon and Malobago; Rapu Rapu island
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Silver
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Rapu Rapu island has a size of 5,589 ha [1]. The Rapu-rapu polymetallic project covers 4,538.7955 ha [5].

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Project area:4,538
Level of Investment:loan size: 268,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:14,000
Start of the conflict:01/11/1998
Company names or state enterprises:Philco Resources Limited from Republic of Korea - mining
LG Electronics International (LG) from Republic of Korea - technology
Rapu Rapu Minerals Inc. (RRMI) from Philippines - mining
Rapu Rapu Processing Inc. (RRPI) from Philippines - mining, processing
Lafayette Phillipines Inc. (LPI) (LPI) from Philippines - mining
Lafayette Mining Ltd. from Australia - mining
Korea Resources Corporation (KORES) from Republic of Korea - industry
F&N Property Holdings (F&N) from Philippines - property development
Malaysian Smelting Corp (MSC) (MSC) from Malaysia - metals, tin, smelting
Relevant government actors:Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
International and Finance InstitutionsANZ Bank group Australia (ANZ) from Australia - banking, finance
ABN Amro Bank (ABN AMRO) from Netherlands
Investec Bank (Mauritius) Limited from Mauritius - banking, finance
Standard Chartered First Bank (Korea) Limited from Republic of Korea - banking, finance
FA International Limited from United Kingdom
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Save rapu rapu alliance; Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP); Sagib Isla Sagip Kapwa; Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC); Kalikasan People's Network; Eucumenical Bishops Forum (EBF); Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP); Greenpeace; Oxfam Australia, and others.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Indigenous Taboy
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Boycotts of companies-products
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Air pollution, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:The central alternative defended by local opponents was to stop mining completely, which could not be achieved.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The reason why the mine was decommissioned was due to exhaustion of mineral reserves.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Executive Order No. 79 (July 2012) Institutionalizing And Implementing Reforms In The Philippine Mining Sector Providing Policies And Guidelines To Ensure Environmental Protection And Responsible Mining In The Utilization Of Mineral Resources
[click to view]

Philippine Mining Act of 1995
[click to view]

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA)
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] OXFAM 2008. Mining Ombudsman case report: Rapu Rapu polymetallic mine. (accessed 24/03/2015)
[click to view]

[2] Mineral Policy Institute 2006. Backgrounder on the Rapu Rapu Mining Operation. (accessed 24/03/2015)
[click to view]

[3] Cathal Doyle, Clive Wicks and Frank Nally 2006. Mining in the Philippines Concerns and conflicts. Report of a Fact-Finding Trip to the Philippines. July-August 2006. (accessed 23/03/2015)
[click to view]

[8] DENR Assessment of the Rapu Rapu polymetallic mining project (accessed 24/03/2015)
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] Environmental Case filed against the Rapu Rapu Polymetallic Project, (accessed 24/03/2015).
[click to view]

[5] online (11/10/12) : "From paradise to wasteland: Environmental destruction, rights violations abound in Bicol’s mining industry" (accessed 24/03/2015)
[click to view]

[6] Blog on the case, maintained by residents (accessed 24/03/2015)
[click to view]

[7] Thomson Reuters article (24/10/2008): "Rapu Rapu copper/zinc mine in Philippines allowed to resume production" (accessed 24/03/2015)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Interview with local activist Antonio Casita, leader of the Sagip Isla -save the island- coalition
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) /arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update28/03/2015
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