Issue of October 14, 2018

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Pending minahang bayan approval DENR says small-scale mining CDO not lifted
by Ofelia Empian

The total ban on all small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera remains in effect pending the approval of minahang bayan applications in the region, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources clarified last week.

In a statement, DENR-Cordillera clarified that the stoppage of the Task Force Itogon, which is going after small-scale mining operations in the municipality, does not mean that small-scale mining operation in Itogon or in any part of the region is allowed.

“We would like to clarify that the stoppage order on all illegal small-scale mining and processing activities remains enforced. More importantly, the conclusion of the initial operations in Itogon does not mean that the stoppage order on all illegal small-scale mining and processing activities in the region has been lifted,” it stated.

DENR-Cordillera also stated that pending the declaration of a minahang bayan, small-scale mining activities including mineral processing should be stopped.

“Any small-scale mining activity to be conducted outside a minahang bayan is considered illegal. All closed and cordoned adits, ball mills and processing plants shall not be utilized/operated and mineral ores inventoried and cordoned off shall not be disposed/further processed until such time that the stoppage order has been lifted and unless permitted by the national government,” the DENR-Cordillera statement reads.

The statement came after a citizen who contacted a Malacañang official posted on social media that DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu has concurred with the stoppage of Task Force Itogon.

The post led the public to understand that the cease and desist order on small-scale mining operation has been lifted.

In an interview, Presidential Communications Operations Office ASec. Marie Banaag also clarified that she did not issue any statement that the stoppage order on small-scale mining has been lifted, but simply answered the query of a citizen.

“We are gathering all feedback on the ground and I am forwarding it to Secretary Cimatu for his information and response. The issue became controversial because it is a very complicated subject, which we understand, and people wanted answers because of their plight,” Banaag said.

With this, Cimatu has scheduled to meet with the affected small-scale miners next week in Itogon.

DENR-Cordillera Executive Director Ralph Pablo said that based on their initial assessment, there are 1,000 adits or small-scale miner’s holes in Itogon.

As of Oct. 10, Task Force Itogon has closed 539 adits, cordoned 335 ball mills, cordoned 64 carbon-in-pulp and carbon-in-leach, 170 leach pads.

The task force have also seized 33 kilograms of cyanide, apprehended six small-scale miners, disconnected 36 power lines that are flying connections, and an estimated 64,214 sacks of mineral ore.

Pablo said the DENR central office is already fast-tracking the processing of a minahang bayan in Itogon.

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