The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has made clear that the ongoing mine loading activities on Homonhon Island in Eastern Samar province were part of the regular mining and export operations in the area.

“We wish to clarify that this is a regular mining operation. The mine has been operating for more than three years, so there’s nothing unusual in this particular transaction,” said DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

Antiporda said the continued operation of Techiron Resources, Inc. was based on the instruction from Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases that export-oriented businesses should not be hampered.

The DENR official issued the statement to dismiss insinuations that the mine loading activities were made “secret” and timed to coincide with the enhanced community quarantine imposed in Luzon and other parts of the country to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19.

Antiporda also clarified that the loading operations were initially suspended just to make sure that “everything is in order.”

“After thorough investigation and the mining company secured all the necessary quarantine certificates, the DENR had no choice but to lift the suspension,” he pointed out.

Antiporda, meanwhile, assured that proper safety protocols and guidelines were in place for the loading of mineral shipment to a foreign cargo vessel commissioned by the mining company.

This, he said, was to ensure protection of residents, mine workers, pier or dock personnel and stevedores from risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What’s important is there is no physical contact with the crew of the cargo vessel anchored off 1.5 kilometers from Homonhon Island,” Antiporda said.

He added that the loading is being done mechanically using equipment and no Filipino was allowed to go inside the foreign cargo vessel. ###