No More ‘White Sand’: Environment chief Cimatu suspends dolomite mining ops in Cebu

<i>Photo: DENR / FB</i>
Photo: DENR / FB

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the suspension of quarry and export operations of two dolomite mining companies in Alcoy, Cebu where the government sourced fake sand for the controversial beach rehab project at Manila Bay.

Cimatu told reporters during a visit inspection to the site today that he’s putting a stop to the operations while they look into complaints of dolomite mining’s alleged destruction of Alcoy’s coral reefs.

“We’re investigating the possible environmental violation of the mining company in transferring their finished product through boats…[I]t’s possible that some of the products may have spilled [to the sea] which could damage corals,”  Cimatu said.

The secretary added that he’s already ordered officials to run lab tests on water samples they collected from the area. Divers will also be deployed to check on the reef. If found violating environmental rules, Dolomite Mining Corporation and the Philippine Mining Service Corporation will be asked to suspend operations permanently.

Cimatu could not say how long the investigation will run but said the mining suspension won’t delay Manila Bay’s rehab target.

“The second phase of the operations in Manila Bay still doesn’t need dolomite yet,” he said.

At present, the Department of Environment is still clearing the bay of trash and building a foundation on the unfilled part of the shoreline before dumping dolomite over it.

Read: ‘Completely absurd’: Pinoys blast gov’t for dumping white sand on Manila Bay

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued a cease-and-desist order earlier this month against the two mining firms for what she called the “unauthorized” extraction of minerals which is harmful to the area’s ecology. Garcia’s order — which halted only the local selling and transport operations of the companies — came days after Filipinos and environmental groups berated the government for the ill-timed, multi-million-peso project.

Malacañang has defended the controversial project by saying it would benefit the public’s mental health, but Vice President Leni Robredo said today that curbing the pandemic would improve Filipinos’ well-being better.

Manila Bay’s weekend public opening was met with ridicule and controversy due to local authorities’ failure to implement social distancing, leading to the sacking of Ermita’s police commander.


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