Cebu gov halts dolomite mining in wake of Manila Bay ‘white sand’ project

Gwendolyn Garcia — CDN File Photo

CEBU CITY—The Cebu provincial government has ordered two mining companies to stop “extracting, processing, selling, and transporting dolomites” following the controversial shipment of dolomite rocks to give the rocky shores of Manila Bay a white sand beach appearance.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on Tuesday (Sept. 8) issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC) and the Philippine Mining Services Corporation (PMSC).

Garcia said there should have been coordination, notice, and consultations with the local government unit and the public before dolomites were extracted in Alcoy town, south Cebu.

She said the provincial government of Cebu and municipality of Alcoy “were not informed of the beautification project” in Manila Bay. There was neither any public consultation held before ore transport permits were issued to PMSC to transport dolomite rocks from Cebu to Manila, she added.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Central Visayas earlier issued two ore transport permits to PMSC allowing the shipment of some 7 wet metric tons of dolomites to Manila for use in making it appear there’s a white sand beach in Manila Bay.

Garcia said not only was a DENR administrative order, 2010-21, violated but there was also no environmental impact study done before dolomite rocks were extracted from the mountains of Alcoy town, which is considered as an “environmentally critical area.”

The mountains of Alcoy are the habitat of endangered siloys, or black shamas, which are found only in Cebu.

The absence of an environment impact study, Garcia said, violated another DENR administrative order, 2003-03, and Presidential Decree No. 1586, or Environmental Impact Statement System.

The harm being inflicted on Cebuanos by the Manila Bay white sand project cannot be measured because of the absence of an environmental impact study, Garcia said.

“The extraction of dolomite minerals from Alcoy and the consequential damage it will cause to the terrestrial environment of Cebu Island violate the Cebuanos’ constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature,” she said in her cease and desist order.

The governor tasked the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office and the Cebu Provincial Police Office with enforcing the order.

Last Thursday (Sept. 3), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) started pouring ground dolomite on a 500-meter stretch of Manila Bay’s naturally rocky shoreline. It was part of a rehabilitation program launched in January 2019 to save the bay from decades of pollution and urban blight.

Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the ”sand” was actually made of crushed rocks of dolomite, a calcium magnesium carbonate, that were transported to Manila from Cebu province.

Provincial Board Member John Ismael Borgonia, chair of the committee on environment conservation and natural resources, said the Cebu provincial government did not have any idea about it and had not issued any permit to extract and haul dolomite for the Manila Bay project.

He first likened the act of taking dolomite from Cebu to cover Manila Bay to “being robbed” since the province did not get anything in return.

In a statement issued late Saturday (Sept. 5), MGB regional director Loreto Alburo said his office issued an ore transport permit last Aug. 26 for the dolomites to the Manila Integrated Cargo Terminal.

According to Alburo, the dolomite shipment was the reported “white sand” which had been spread along the shorelines of Manila Bay.

Alburo said DMC quarried the dolomite at the village of Pugalo in Alcoy.

The PMSC plant in Alcoy has an existing mineral processing permit from the MGB which is in its second five-year term that would expire in 2023.

The regional MGB office said dolomite products in Alcoy are regularly marketed to local and foreign buyers and end users of dolomite in Taiwan and Japan.

Locally, the dolomites in Cebu are shipped to Misamis Oriental, Pasig City, Davao City, Manila and other cities in Cebu. — | via Sean Tyler Chan, AdChoiceTV News

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