Cimatu verbally orders suspension of dolomite-quarrying firms

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | September 25,2020 - 06:24 PM
FULL STORY: Cimatu verbally orders suspension of dolomite-quarrying firms

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu leads the inspection of the mineral-processing plant in Alcoy, Cebu on Friday, September 25, 2020. | Morexette Marie B. Erram

ALCOY, Cebu — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Friday, September 25 has verbally ordered the temporary suspension of two large-scale dolomite quarrying and processing firms in Alcoy town, Cebu.

Cimatu on Friday led the ocular inspection in Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC) and Philippine Mining Service Corporation (PMSC), both based in Barangay Pugalo, Alcoy.

Cimatu told members of the media in a press interview that his visit was due to reports they received and heard from various sectors – both from the public and private – that quarrying and processing dolomite, a type of mineral, have damaged portions of Alcoy’s marine ecosystem.

After a meeting with representatives from the two mining firms, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary said their department would be intervening in the matter.

As a result, they have ordered the companies to temporarily cease all aspects of its operations effective Friday.

“We have to suspend all of its operations as an investigation is ongoing. (Suspension will take effect) starting today (Friday),” said Cimatu in a mix of English and Tagalog.

It can be recalled that prior to Cimatu’s announcement, the Cebu Provincial government has initiated its own investigation on DMC and PMSC.

The Capitol earlier announced that they, too, had received findings from environmental groups, saying that moving crushed dolomite out of the processing plant, through a conveyor belt, had resulted in heavy siltation in Alcoy’s coral reefs.

Sought for her comments, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia welcomed Cimatu’s decision.

“I would like to thank Secretary Cimatu for acting quickly. He has, I’m sure, been apprised of the investigation we have conducted, and from reports that have arrived,” said Garcia.

The governor had planned to issue another cease-and-desist order on the two mining operators after discovering ‘obvious environmental violations’.

“And these have been discussed yesterday in different agencies. They have conducted site inspections and there are obvious violations to the ECC (Environment Compliant Certificate) and water discharge permit,” Garcia said.

“These are violations causing degradation of our seabed so we had contemplated issuing a CDO. But I’d like to thank Secretary Cimatu for beating me to it,” she added.

READ MORE: Alcoy fishermen continue livelihood amid corals suffering from siltation

Alcoy is a fifth-class municipality located approximately 101 kilometers southeast of Cebu City. Experts said huge deposits of dolomite rocks, a type of mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate, can be found here.

Cimatu has directed the Environmental Management Bureau in Central Visayas (EMB-7) to collect water samples and conduct air monitoring around the port of PMSC.

PMSC processes and exports dolomite they bought from DMC which is the sole dolomite quarrying operator in the municipality.

Cimatu also said DENR would be closely coordinating with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) to examine the extent of damage in Alcoy’s seabed, which environmental groups said had suffered heavy siltation due to the movement of crushed dolomite rocks in PMSC’s port.

PMSC, for its part, said they would abide by whatever instructions that would come from DENR.

In the meantime, Engineer Antonio Castillo, senior manager of corporate planning of PMSC, said they would wait for the official order from DENR’s central office.

“We will wait for the official document from DENR. But nevertheless, as the regulating body, we will abide by whatever they will instruct us to do,” Castillo said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

Garcia earlier released a similar order to the companies after national government agencies confirmed that the crushed dolomite rocks used as the artificial white sand for Manila Bay’s rehabilitation initiative came from Alcoy.

Garcia’s previous directives effectively stopped more shipment of dolomite rocks to Manila Bay. /dbs

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TAGS: Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC), Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, FULL STORY: Cimatu verbally orders suspension of dolomite-quarrying firms, Philippine Mining Service Corporation (PMSC)

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