Surigao Norte Gov says no to quarry and small scale mining

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/28 August) — The provincial government of Surigao del Norte wants a full implementation of the suspension of quarry and small scale mining permits here following reported violations of environmental laws.

This after the office of the governor received reports that some quarry operations and small mining activities violated environmental laws and ordinances.

Provincial Administrator Romeo Cal said that Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas  issued Executive Order 007 dated August 11, cancelling all permits of quarry and small scale mining permits operating in the province.

He said the governor issued special permits to entities undertaking existing road improvements that have foreign funding component pursuant to international commitments or agreements.

Cal said they may be given permit up to the extent of their need for quarry resources based on the program of work.

Cal added that an ad hoc technical group in coordination with the Provincial Environment and Management Office (PEMO) found several violations of these quarry activities in the province after it had conducted an assessment on the rivers.

He said quarry operations on sand and gravel violated the one kilometer radius from the foot of the bridge, causing severe degradation of the foundation of the bridges.

It has been noticed that in San Francisco town its longest bridge weakens, thus only one side of the bridge is being used as the other one had to be closed.

Cal is also the chair of Task Force EO 007 which has also for its composition the PEMO and its members: Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Provincial Environment and Natural Resources of Office (PENRO) and Provincial Board Member Semeon Castrence as chair of the Committee on Environment.

“Quarry operations for sand and gravel have excavated beyond the prohibited one meter depth  thereby causing the lands in the periphery to erode,” Cal said.

He told reporters that during the Kapihan Sa Kapitolyo in Gigaquit  last Wednesday, that operators also excessively hauled resources beyond the need of a certain project as per approved program of work, thereby bringing about the possible depletion of resources.

Cal also added that there are existing small- scale mining activities in the province that have been operating using temporary permits.

Matugas said there is an urgent need to reassess the adequacy of measures and procedural guidelines to ensure environmental protection, conservation and to maximize and rationalize the resources of the province.

“I have to control the activities of the province affecting public welfare and in ensuring the right of the people to a balanced ecology,” she said.

San Francisco Mayor Simplicia Bacol said she hopes the suspension will be lifted so as not to hamper any development in government involving infrastructure projects.

“There are projects that must be implemented by the local government for the benefit of the people but we can’t start or continue because we are following the Executive Order,” Bacol told MindaNews.

She said the suspension should not derail the completion of government projects, especially on road improvement, construction of school building and any construction projects that use sand and gravel. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)