Environment chief suspends dolomite mining ops in Cebu source of Manila Bay 'white sand'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2020 02:10 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2020 02:21 PM

Synthetic white sand made of crushed dolomite rocks sourced from Alcoy town in Cebu was used for the controversial Manila Bay project initiated by the DENR. On Friday, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu suspended dolomite operations in the town. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has suspended operations in two dolomite mining firms in Alcoy, Cebu, where government sourced synthetic white sand for a beautification project at the Manila Bay.

In a text message, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said Cimatu inspected dolomite mining operations in Alcoy over complaints on allegedly harmful environmental effects.

"He immediately ordered the suspension of operation of Dolomite Mining Corp. and Philippine Mining Service Corp pending investigation on its operations' environmental impact," said Antiporda.

The Cebu Provincial Government earlier issued a cease and desist order against the two firms, saying shipment of crushed dolomite to Manila— a project initiated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources— was done without public consultation.

In Executive Order No. 25, Garcia said the extraction of dolomite from Alcoy town and the "consequential damage it will cause the terrestrial environment of Cebu Island" is also a violation of the constitutional right of Cebu residents to "a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."

Following his inspection of the two mining sites, Cimatu directed the Environmental Management Bureau in Region 7 to conduct water quality sampling near the firms' shiploading facility, and to also check ambient air quality.

Experts had earlier warned of the dangers of inhalation of crushed dolomite, with the health department citing hazards that come with the process of pulverizing the rock.

Cimatu also ordered Cebu's Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer to check on the condition of corals, following the Cebu capitol's complaint that the mining of dolomite rocks and transport of crushed dolomite near the mines had damaged the ecosystem in the area, destroying coral reefs.

He ordered provincial environment and mining officials to discuss concerns about dolomite extraction in the Cebu town.

Government's Manila Bay "white sand beach" project had drawn both cheers and jeers, with officials and some among the public praising the coastal facelift, and others criticizing the "unnecessary" expense as the country grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Videos and photos taken at the Manila Bay artificial white sand beach showed that some of the crushed dolomite was already being washed away, but the DENR denied this was so.

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

— With reports from April Rafales, ABS-CBN News