Cimatu orders suspension of 2 Cebu mining firms amid probe on dolomite damage

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the suspension of two mining firms in Alcoy, Cebu pending the results of the investigation on the alleged dolomite mining damage.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said in a statement on Friday that Cimatu ordered the suspension as the investigation is ongoing on the alleged damages caused by the dolomite mining on the coral reef, water, and ambient air quality.

“Secretary Cimatu suspended the Dolomite Mining Corporation for its quarry operations and Philippine Mining Service Corporation, a processing plant for dolomite,” said Antiporda.

Cimatu has directed the Environmental Management Bureau Region 7 to conduct sampling on the ambient air quality and on the quality on waters below the conveyor at shiploading facility.

The Environment chief held a two-hour meeting with officials from Dolomite Mining Corporation, the Philippine Mining Services Corporation, local officials and other stakeholders at the mining site.

He also ordered the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office Cebu to determine the health condition of the corals.

The alleged damage of coral reef in the surrounding area where the dolomite boulders were extracted was the subject of the complaint of the local government.

"Habang under investigation dito ay mag cease operations muna sila pero nag cease operations naman sila dahil sa cease and desist order of the province. Ang sabi ko kahit wala ang cease-and-desist order na yan they have to stop operations at mag conduct ng investigation muna," Ciimatu told reporters during his visit to Alcoy town on Friday."

[Translation: While there is an ongoing investigation here, operations must cease, but it already did because of the cease-and-desist order of the province. I said even without that, they need to stop operations.]

The stoppage wiill last pending the EMB investigation. If violations are found, Cimatu said operations will be suspended further.

The Cebu provincial government has earlier issued a cease-and-desist order for the unauthorized mineral extraction of the dolomite rocks to be used in the controversial Manila Bay ‘white sand’ layover.

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

Dale Israel, CNN Philippines correspondent in Cebu, contributed to this story.