Mining firms require close monitoring, says new MinDA chair

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Jan) – Newly-appointed Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Maria Belen Sunga Acosta said extractive industry practices need thorough review and operations of mining firms require close monitoring.

The effect of mining in the municipality of Claver, Surigao del Norte. MindaNews file photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

In a statement released on Wednesday, Acosta, a former councilor of Davao City’s First District, acknowledged the contribution of the industry as one of the country’s economic drivers but she added that the review and monitoring of the mining industry are needed to “prevent pollution and contamination, distortion of ecological balance and damage to water systems.”

The siltation pond of a mining company overflowed to Mapagba River, and causes discoloration of the Pintatagan and Maputi Rivers in Banaybanay town, Davao Oriental, prompting the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-Davao to issue a Cease and Desist Order to its operation.

“Economic development and environmental protection should go hand in hand. They should not cancel each other. Sustainable growth is the way to go,” Acosta said.

She said that the siltation and spill from a mining operation indicate early signs of environmental degradation, which could severely affect the river systems and coastal areas.

The provincial government of Davao Oriental, in a press release issued on January 17, announced that MGB Undersecretary Wilfredo Moncano directed its regional office here to release an immediate stoppage order “to give way to a joint detailed investigation to find out the causes and the means to mitigate the damages” after a heavy siltation was observed in the affected rivers following a continuous downpour last January 14.

It said the MGB assured the company will be barred from resuming its operation unless it undertakes the corrective measures and comply with appropriate sanctions.

Davao Oriental Gov. Nelson Dayanghirang said that irresponsible mining is unacceptable because it “poses serious, long-term threats to communities and waterways” and that the “preservation and conservation of the environment should come first above everything else.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)