DENR shuts down illegal small-scale mining plants in Malimono, Surigao del Norte

By ERIC GALLEGO

SURIGAO CITY, JULY 5,2018 --  With three squads of fully-armed Philippine Army soldiers and several policemen, the DENR-Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau operatives swooped down into the four coastal villages in Malimono, Surigao del Norte on Wednesday and apprehended dozens of apparatus and rodmills of illegal gold processing plants worth an estimated more than P2 million.

This was the third wave of the on-going crackdown against small-scale mining operation launched by the DENR that began on June 1, 2018, after Secretary Roy A. Cimatu gave instructions to all DENR Regional officer to stop all illegal mining activities and timber poaching in Caraga Region and other areas in Mindanao.

DENR 13 Regional Director Atty. Felix S. Alicer said the latest operation  in the remote town of Malimono was successful in flushing out illegal operators of small-scale mining which has reportedly destroyed some part of the watershed since 2014.

MGB officer Engr. Carlos Cogolio said the operatives were dismayed of what they found at several target sites when they swooped down in the area early in the morning as they found nothing on the suspected houses identified as hosts of illegal mining processing plants.

 “ It appears, the operators were expecting us when most of the identified processing plants were closed and padlocked”,   Engr. Cogolio said.

The extent of damage made by the miners at the watershed in that town being determined by the MGB.  The miners also constructed and made about 40 mine adits and portals on the uphill several kilometers from that town. “ For lack of time and the critical situation of peace and order, the operatives had just noted the presence of mine tunnels in that area”Cogolio said.

Some three years ago, at the height of the illegal mining activities, the miners have reportedly used water cannons to flush down tons of raw ore materials sending eroded soils to the coastal seas.

The people in that community, however,  held a protest rally later against the operators of the small-scale mining which prompted Provincial Governor Sol Matugas and the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office to issue a Cease and Desist Order. The operators since then have slowly shut down their ball mill plants until they were completely halted.

 One of the old-time operators, a  former barangay captain identified as Danilo Monte de Ramos appeared to have been defiant when the operatives tried to search his premises of illegal equipment in Barangay Masgad. The operatives, however, had found at his compound two idle and rusty ball mills and stocks of   10-inch diameter plastic pipes used in the gold processing inside his compound.

 The MGB operatives have made a big score when they stumbled upon a  large processing plant at the back of a  public elementary school in  barangay Hanagdon where several rodmills, electric transformers and generators, and many other types of equipment were dismantled and taken under custody of the DENR. The owner identified as Soriano Sulsula was not around when the operatives came to inspect his premises. The operative dismantled everything of value they could find in that processing plant.

 The MGB  said the estimate the value of all the apprehended equipment and facilities during the operation may reach more than P 2 million. The biggest scoop of which belonged to businessman Sorano Sulsula who was not around when the operatives came.

        The MGB is expected to finalize its inventory of equipment and facilities which they had confiscated from the different processing plants in barangays Cansayong, Bunyasan, Hanagdon and Masgad, all in Malimono. These materials which included rotors and rod mills , generator sets and other tools were deposited at the MGB for safekeeping.  

        RD Alicer and MGB Director Engr. Roger A. De Dios have commended the team who participated in the operation for a “well-done job”.  The officials also thanked the PNP and the Philippine Army troops for providing security and order.  ( ERIC GALLEGO )

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