THE government order to shut down small-scale mining (SSM) activities in the Cordillera Administrative Region remains in effect, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office stressed.
In a statement on October 9, DENR-Cordillera clarified that the National Task Force Itogon recommended the end of the three-day Operation Itogon, but the order to stop all small-scale mining activities remains in effect.
The task force is composed of DENR, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Environment and Management Bureau, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and Benguet Electric Cooperative.
“On October 10, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu concurred with the recommendation of the Task Force to stop Operation Itogon. We would like to clarify, however 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 SSM and processing activities in the Cordillera has been lifted,” the DENR stated.
The environment agency stressed that pending the declaration of Minahang Bayan, small-scale mining activities conducted outside Minahang Bayan are considered illegal.
“All closed and cordoned adits, ball mills and processing plants will 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,” DENR said.
On Friday, Police Regional Office- Cordillera (PRO-CPR) Chief Superintendent Rolando Nana said illegal SSM operations remained closed.
“In the absence of the approval of the resolution to be given by the Secretary of DENR we will still implement their order complete stoppage of all small-scale mining activities in the Cordillera,” stated Nana on Wednesday at Itogon regarding the latter declaration of Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council creation of a resolution to support the small-scale miners request address to the secretary to possibly allow extraction of remaining unprocessed ores.
Nana mentioned that during the order to stop all SSM activities, four were arrested in Itogon after they were caught transporting ores. Some 32 sacks of nava were confiscated.
As of October 10, Operation Itogon of the National Task Force Mining Challenge shut down a total of 539 adits, cordoned off 335 ball mills, and seized 33 kilograms of cyanide seize and 64,214 sacks of mineral ore obtained.