DENR sus­pends 2 min­ing firms

En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Roy Ci­matu has sus­pended the oper­a­tion of two min­ing and min­eral pro­cess­ing firms in Cebu that har­vested the dolomite used as white sand sub­sti­tute in the Manila Bay re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram.

The Freeman - - Front Page - Cae­cent No-ot Mag­sum­bol, Staff Mem­ber Le Phyl­lis F. An­to­jado, Cor­re­spon­dent

“We have to sus­pend all its op­er­a­tions to give way for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pend­ing the re­sults of the wa­ter qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing, co­ral reef as­sess­ment, and am­bi­ent air qual­ity and other pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tions on en­vi­ron­men­tal laws, rules and reg­u­la­tions be­ing con­ducted by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Bureau ( EMB) and the Mines and Geo­sciences Bureau (MGB),” Ci­matu said in a state­ment re­leased by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR).

Cov­ered by the sus­pen­sion are Dolomite Min­ing Cor­po­ra­tion and Philip­pine Min­ing Ser­vice Cor­po­ra­tion, both based in the south­ern town of Al­coy.

The sus­pen­sion came shortly af­ter the soft re­open­ing of Manila Bay in Manila that show­cased the “white sands” from Cebu.

DMC is the only largescale pro­ducer of dolomite ma­te­ri­als be­ing a holder of a 25-year min­eral pro­duc­tion shar­ing agree­ment (MPSA) con­tract de­nom­i­nated as MPSA No. 208- 2005VII cov­er­ing 524.6103 hectares, which will ex­pire in 2030.

Meanwhile, PMSC is a holder of a min­eral p r o c e s s i n g p e r m i t de­nom­i­nated as MPP007- 2005VII, which will ex­pire in 2023. It un­der­takes crush­ing and screen­ing of raw ma­te­ri­als into lump ore, fine ore, and other de­sired and mar­ket spec­i­fied sizes.

D o l o m i t e i s a sed­i­men­tary car­bon­ate rock that has a high con­tent of the min­eral dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2.

E a r l i e r , D E N R Un­der­sec­re­tary Bennie A n t i p o r d a s a i d t h e govern­ment i s but a cus­tomer and has no hand in the ex­trac­tion of dolomites in Cebu. Still, this does not mean t hey are not act­ing on com­plaints and con­cerns raised in re­la­tion to dolomites.

Yes­ter­day, Ci­matu met with Al­coy Mayor Michael An­gelo Sestoso; Vice Mayor Jimmy Aba­jon; PMSC Se­nior Man­ager for Cor­po­rate Plan­ning An­to­nio Castillo, and of­fi­cials of the re­gional Mines and Geo­sciences Bureau and En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Bureau to look into al­le­ga­tions and the com­plaint of the pro­vin­cial govern­ment to im­prove min­ing op­er­a­tions.

Af­ter t he meet­ing, Cimutu in­spected the ship load­ing fa­cil­ity af­ter the pro­vin­cial govern­ment, in a re­port from Knight Stew­ards of the Sea, claimed the ex­trac­tion of dolomite rocks from Al­coy dam­aged the co­ral reef.

“Ang con­cern ko ta­laga ay ang en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues na na- bring out by the Province ( Cebu) against these com­pa­nies,” Ci­matu said.

(My con­cern re­ally are the en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues raised by the province against these com­pa­nies.)

There was no on­go­ing min­eral pro­cess­ing and ship load­ing oper­a­tion at the time of the in­spec­tion but Ci­matu de­cided still to sus­pend op­er­a­tions.

Ear­lier, Gov­er­nor Gwen­dolyn Gar­cia is­sued a cease and de­sist or­der pur­suant t o Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 25- A for the do­mes­tic sale and trans­port of dolomite used as a sand and gravel sub­sti­tute.

Should DENR find t hat t he min­ing firms vi­o­lated reg­u­la­tions, the com­pa­nies them­selves may be sus­pended.

“Af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, kung mala­man na may vi­o­la­tion man… Kung may vi­o­la­tion man, then we will pro­ceed with the sus­pen­sion of the com­pany,” Ci­matu said.

(Af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tion will find that the com­pa­nies have vi­o­la­tions, we will sus­pend the com­pa­nies.)

Now, the two firms are fac­ing ad­di­tional bur­den with the sus­pen­sion of the is­suance of the ore trans­port per­mit (OTP) for both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional ship­ment of dolomite. The per­mit is be­ing is­sued by MGB.

Last Au­gust 26, 2020, MGB-7 is­sued an OTP to PMSC to trans­port 3,500 WMT of pro­cessed dolomite (size -5mm) to the Manila In­te­grated Cargo Ter­mi­nal. The dolomite ship­ment was uti­lized for the beach nour­ish­ment project in Manila Bay.

Along with yes­ter­day's in­spec­tion, a team from EMB- 7 col­lected wa­ter sam­ples from t he ship load­ing fa­cil­ity to de­ter­mine whether the wa­ter qual­ity there is within stan­dards pur­suant to the Clean Wa­ter Act.

Am­bi­ent air qual­ity was also mea­sured.

“Aside from the corals, we are look­ing into the qual­ity of the wa­ter, the qual­ity of the air here para na­man sa mga tao, sa com­mu­nity dito,” Ci­matu said.

In an­other devel­op­ment, Ci­matu or­dered MGB to con­vene the Cebu Pro­vin­cial Min­ing Reg­u­la­tory Board (PMRB) to dis­cuss min­ing re­lated is­sues and con­cerns.

Meanwhile, Gar­cia thanked Ci­matu for the "quick ac­tion" against the min­ing firms.

She said the Pro­vin­cial En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Of­fice (PENRO) found vi­o­la­tions com­mit­ted by the firms.

"There are ob­vi­ous vi­o­la­tions on ECC and wa­ter dis­charge per­mit. So these are vi­o­la­tions that are caus­ing degra­da­tion of our seabed," Gar­cia said.

The CDO she is­sued ear­lier stopped "fur­ther trans­port­ing and sell­ing dolomite, as­so­ci­ated min­eral de­posits, and other quarry re­sources in the do­mes­tic and lo­cal mar­ket used as sub­sti­tutes for sand and gravel, soil con­di­tioner, and other pur­poses."

Gar­cia is­sued the CDO af­ter Capi­tol learned that the firms in Al­coy have been sell­ing dolomites with­out the proper per­mit from the province. —

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