RAPU-RAPU, Albay -– What happens now that the mining operations of a giant multi-national industrial firm in the mineral-depleted barangay of Pagcolbon, on which most villagers were made dependent on for their livelihood for years, have terminated?
How about their lands within the 180-hectare site which were turned barren by the mining operations?
Pagcolbon was the center of the mining operations whose site also covered parts of neighboring villages of Binosawan and Malobago.
Fishing and farming are the major sources of income for the local folk in seasonal periods.
January to August, when the sea is mild, are fishing months; while September to December, the rainy season, is for farming.
When mining was started by the Australian-owned Lafayette Philippines Inn. in 2005, the villagers sold their farmlands to the firm.
Fishing was given up in favor of jobs provided by the mining operations.
The gold and silver mine operations of Lafayette were closed after two years following a series of toxic waste spill that triggered a massive fish kill at the coastal water.
In 2008, Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project — jointly run by the Rapu-Rapu Minerals Inc and Rapu-Rapu Processing Inc., both subsidiaries of Korea-Malaysia Philippines Resources Inc., took over the operations.
Late last year, the project ended leaving hundreds of residents jobless and a vast tract of land worthless to farming for years. (with PNA report by Danny Calleja.)