The Environment department on Wednesday cited its proactive approach to responsible mining amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the powerful typhoons that hit the Philippines in the last quarter
“We have faced a lot of challenges this year, especially during the last quarter. A series of typhoons hit parts of our country triggering massive flooding and lahar flow that led to the loss of life and damage to property and natural resources,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said.
“However, we in the department, together with Mines and Geosciences Bureau and all the concerned agencies, were proactive in finding solutions to these problems.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau investigated mining and quarry activities within the hazard-prone areas and closed down illegal mining operations in the country during recent months.
We assure you that we will continue to exert the needed effort to prevent and mitigate natural disasters.”It also coordinated with national government agencies and local government units to address the destruction in flood- and landslide-prone areas to prevent disasters from happening again.
Separate investigations were conducted in Marikina City and the provinces of Albay and Rizal to evaluate whether mining and quarrying activities contributed to the massive flooding during the typhoons.
The DENR has already been monitoring the contracts/permits of mining companies and operators to ensure compliance with mining laws, rules, and regulations, Cimatu says.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bureau conducted virtual audit and monitoring of the mining activities based on submitted reports and real-time photos/videos from its regional offices.
A total of 680 mining contracts/permits either under exploration, development, utilization/production, and including those under rehabilitation period were monitored/audited for compliance to terms and conditions.
Before the onset of the typhoons, the MGB had already updated its geo-hazard maps with a scale of 1: 10,000 and conducted vulnerability and risk assessments for 214 cities and municipalities across the country.
It has directed its regional offices to allow mining companies to realign the unused funds from the social development and management program to assist host and neighboring communities affected by COVID-19.
As of Aug. 7, P380 million was used to procure personal protective equipment, medical supplies, goods, and grocery supplies for the beneficiaries.
In order to aid in the recovery of the country’s economy post-COVID-19, the mining contractors/permit holders were instructed to establish an additional bamboo plantation equivalent to 10 percent of their declared final mining area, bringing the total target of bamboo plantations to at least 20 percent.
Cimatu directed the mining companies to establish and maintain bamboo plantations equivalent to 10 percent of their mined-out areas.