Mining bureau recommends lifting of quarry suspension around Mayon Volcano

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 3) - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau on Thursday recommended the lifting of suspension on quarrying operations near Mayon Volcano, citing there is an urgent need to empty and restore the capacity of river channels around it.

"An increased rate of quarrying is needed to empty and restore the capacity of the river channels, so that when rain comes with eroded material from the slopes of Mayon Volcano, the restored river channel can serve as the pathway to accommodate and remobilize the eroded material," MGB director Wilfredo Moncano said in a statement.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu suspended all quarrying operations around Mayon Volcano last November after the lahar flooding incident that occurred during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly.

Out of the 106 suspended quarry operators, Moncano said 91 companies were found to be compliant following the probe of the MGB-led task force. The 15 others have permit violations.

He added the compliant companies may be allowed to continue their operations, subject to strict monitoring under the terms and conditions of their existing permits.

"These quarry firms were proven to have followed quarry regulations, such as not operating beyond their permit area and having an active Environmental Compliance Certificate," Moncano said.

As for the 15 erring quarrying operators, the MGB will forward their case to the Environmental Management Bureau for "technical review and possible sanction or payment of penalty."

Moncano also said the areas quarried by the violators will be immediately rehabilitated.

Meanwhile, Moncano said quarry operations near the volcano cannot be blamed for the lahar flooding which left six people dead.

"The quarrying has an insignificant contribution to the lahar flow devastation caused by Super Typhoon Rolly because it was a combination of huge volume of water, combined with stocked lahar that came from the slope and foot of Mayon Volcano," he said.