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Gov elated on DENR’s quick action
By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Friday, September 25, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia expressed her gratitude to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu for ordering the suspension of the operations of the mining and mineral processing firms in Alcoy pending results of the investigation on their alleged violations. FILE PHOTO

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia thanked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu for ordering Friday, September 25, the suspension of the operations of the dolomite mining and mineral processing firms in Alcoy town, southern Cebu.

The companies’ operations are suspended pending results of an investigation on violations to their mining permits, water discharge permit, and the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

“I would like to thank Secretary Cimatu for acting quickly. I’m sure he has already been apprised on the investigations that we have conducted, and from the reports that have arrived and been discussed yesterday from the different agencies – from the EMB (Environmental Management Bureau), the MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau), the PENRO (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office) that conducted the site inspection, there are obvious violations to the ECC and to the water discharge permit. These are violations that are causing degradation of our seabed,” she said.

“We had contemplated on issuing cease and desist orders, but I thank Secretary Cimatu for beating me to it. So, daghang salamat, Secretary Cimatu,” the governor expressed.

Cimatu suspended quarry operations of Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC) and the Philippine Mining Service Corporation’s (PMSC) processing of blocks of dolomite exported as a raw material to Korea and Japan for the manufacturing of glass and steel, and recently as substitute to sand and gravel for a beach rehabilitation project in Manila City.

In a statement released by DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, it was learned that Cimatu ordered the EMB in Central Visayas to conduct a sampling on water quality below the conveyor in the mine’s shiploading facility as well as on the air quality.

PENRO is also ordered to check on the condition of corals while MGB is instructed to convene the Cebu Provincial Mining Regulatory Board to discuss mining-related issues and concerns.

“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 and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau,” Cimatu said in the statement.

The DENR press release mentioned that “a team from EMB 7 collected water samples from the shiploading facility to determine whether the water quality is within standards pursuant to the Clean Water Act. Also, ambient air quality was measured.”

Likewise, the order included the suspension of issuance of ore transport permit (OTP) for both local and international shipment of dolomite materials by the MGB. 

On August 26, MGB 7 issued an OTP to PSMC to transport 3,500 wet metric tons of processed dolomite to the Manila Integrated Cargo Terminal in Manila City. The dolomite shipment is the reported “white sand” which had been spread along the shoreline of Manila Bay to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the bayfront.

Earlier, the Capitol issued a cease and desist order to DMC and PMSC for the act of selling the dolomite as substitute for sand and gravel in the domestic market, which is not covered by their permits.

Garcia issued Executive Order No. 25 preventing the two firms from "extracting, processing, selling and transporting dolomite, associated mineral deposits, and other quarry resources."

The dolomite in Alcoy is a sedimentary carbonate rock that has a high content of the mineral dolomite. It is is generally used in iron and steel making; metal processing; glass, bricks and ceramics productions as well as fertilizer and soil conditioner, among others. (Eleanor Valeros)