THE TASK force handling the rehabilitation of Naboc River in gold-rich Davao de Oro province has ordered 53 processors to stop operations outside the designated zone.   

In a statement on Monday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Davao office, one of the lead agencies of the task force, said the cease and desist orders (CDOs) were served last week alongside the seizure of equipment.   

“The CDOs were issued for the non-compliance of the operators on the DENR’s order to have them transferred to the designated Mineral Processing Zone at Mabatas area in Barangay Upper Ulip. This said move is the first step to take in order to implement DENR’s Naboc River Rehabilitation Project,” the agency said.   

The project was launched in 2019 to clean up the 24-kilometer Naboc River, which has been found to have high levels of hazardous chemicals such as mercury and cyanide due to illegal ore processing operations in upstream areas.   

The operators were directed that same year to transfer to the processing zone.  

Dredging of Naboc River started on Sept. 1 this year.  

“The serving of CDOs is a parallel effort of the government in rehabilitating Naboc River and since the dredging activity has already commenced, it is immensely needed for these mineral processing operators to transfer to the Mabatas Mineral Processing Zone,” Regional Executive Director Bagani Fidel A. Evasco said.  

A 1998 report by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional office placed Davao de Oro’s gold deposits at 36, 328,699 metric tons, one of the biggest in the world. — MSJ