THE Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) called for the review of minerals industry practices and said its operations should require close monitoring following the heavy siltation of the Mapagda River, Banaybanay, Davao Oriental.

In a press statement, MinDA Chairperson Mabel Sunga Acosta lauded the "swift action" taken by the Provincial Government of Davao Oriental and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Arc Nickel Resources Inc. (Anri) was handed a cease and desist order, which suspends its operations in the area following the siltation incident that resulted in the discoloration of Mapagba River and coastal areas in Banaybanay on January 14.

"MinDA lauds the immediate call for halt of operations by the Provincial Government and the subsequent release of Cease and Desist Order by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) XI to a mining company whose siltation pond overflowed to the Mapagba River," Acosta said.

The official said the siltation incident and spill from a mining operation "indicate early signs of environmental degradation and could severely affect our river systems and coastal areas if left unchecked."

"While minerals industry continues to be cited as among the country’s economic drivers, some industry practices need thorough review and operations require close monitoring to prevent pollution and contamination, distortion of ecological balance and damage to water systems," she said.

"Economic development and environmental protection should go hand in hand. They should not cancel each other. Sustainable growth is the way to go," she added.

In a press conference on Monday, January 17, DENR-Davao Director Bagani Evasco said a show cause and cease and desist order was issued to Anri.

“Based on the initial assessment, the potential source of siltation and discoloration along the Mapagba River was attributed to active mining activity of Arc Nickel Resources Inc., operator of the Riverbend Consolidated Mining Corporation,” said Evasco in a press conference.

Evasco said the siltation pond in the production area of Anri, located at Kilometer 9, Banaybanay, Davao Oriental, was saturated following the heavy rains on January 13 to 14, and thus overflowed to the Mapagba River.

EMB-Davao Director Engr. Mario Bulacan said based on the existing Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), Anri has three violations, “specifically ECC condition 1, condition number 4, and ECC condition number 18 administratively it has a corresponding administrative penalty of P50,000.”

Bulacan said the mining company is also facing possible sanctions under Republic Act 9275, or the Clean Water Act.

He said the notice of violation is partial as it is still based on violations of the ECC and depending on the laboratory result from the water samples they can issue a notice of violation based on the Clean Water Act.