Cimatu says tree-cutting, not siltation, is biggest mining problem

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Roy A. Cimatu DENR

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said operating mines are most often in violation of tree-cutting laws, even though the suspension and closure of a majority of miners was largely over incidents of alleged siltation in nearby bodies of water.

“The major violations are mostly illegal cutting,” Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu told reporters on Wednesday in Quezon City.

Mr. Cimatu declined to go into detail of the department’s “partial” findings as it awaits the pending Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) review, which it plans to merge with its own findings. The harmonized report will determine the fate of the 26 mines that were ordered shut and suspended by his predecessor, Regina Paz L. Lopez.

The interagency mining council is mandated to conduct periodic reviews of all mine sites in the country to help develop, amend, or establish policies necessary for the betterment of the industry while ensuring environmental laws are respected. It began last month its review, with the 26 first in line and results targeted to be released by September.

The DENR is conducting a “science-based” validation of the mine audit. Ms. Lopez’s team found that most of the 26 firms caused siltation, though some firms denied operating near lakes or rivers.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cimatu will meet with miners next week to clear up environmental issues in their operations, “all 41 of them, even the ones that are compliant.” — Janina C. Lim