THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 will boost its partnership with local government units (LGUs) in stopping illegal mining and quarrying activities in Central Visayas, amid the call for responsible mining.
“There is no way to stop mining, but there is a way to stop illegal mining,” said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 Director Isabelo Montejo during the Mid-year Assessment on DENR programs, projects and activities, and expanded execom Meeting held last week.
Mining and quarrying have significant and growing roles in the economic development, especially with the expanding urban investments on construction among others in Central Visayas. Illegal and small-scale mining proliferates as the demand for aggregates increases, said Montejo.
“When it comes to environmental protection, we cannot do this alone. We need the different sectors to help us. We need help because in the end we have one planet and we use the same resources,” Montejo said.
MGB 7 Director Loreto Alburo sought for a stronger coordination with the LGUs and local civil society sectors to report illegal activities in the region.
Small-scale mining operations or those activities, which rely mainly on manual labor and use simple implements, are regulated by the LGUs while large-scale mining is under the supervision and regulation by the bureau, said Alburo.
However, he said that any mining and quarry activities that do not have permits both from the LGU or MGB shall automatically be issued with a cease-and-desist order. Alburo said that small-scale and large-scale mining activities must have an environment compliance certificate (ECC).  DENR Secretary Regina Paz Lopez has ordered to conduct an audit of existing mining operations all over the country. Audit MGB 7 is set to finish its audit in August.
“We see the Secretary’s sincerity to help the poor through responsible mining and one of the avenues for responsible mining is for these mine operators to get ISO 14001 certification, although this is just one of the requirements to be responsible miners for the common good. We have also regularly monitored the tree planting and other environmental and social development activities of these companies on a quarterly basis,” Alburo said.
In Central Visayas, there are 11 non-metallic and one metallic mining operations. Carmen Copper Corp., the lone metallic mining operation in the region was among the first to acquire an ISO certification in the country. / Sunstar Cebu