Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered the suspension of a mining company's extraction activities following the heavy siltation of Mapagba and Pinatatagan rivers in Banaybanay town, Davao Oriental province on January 14.

"I have received the report yesterday (January 17) confirming that the river has turned red due to extraction activities. I have instructed our regional office to immediately address the incident and to suspend the operations of the mining company," Cimatu said during the DENR's Expanded Executive Committee Conference on January 18.

Based on the initial investigation and assessment of DENR-Davao Region, together with the region's Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Environmental Management Bureau, the siltation and discoloration of the Mapagba and Pinatatagan rivers were attributed to the extraction activity of Riverbend Consolidated Mining Corporation/Arc Nickel Resources, Inc.

"Heavy and continuous rains last January 13 and 14 have pushed overburden materials which contributed to the overflowing of silt pond, draining towards the said rivers," the report read.

On January 17, the DENR-Davao Region issued a cease and desist order (CDO), notice of violation, and show cause order to the mining company.

"I directed for the [issuance] of cease and desist order, suspension of that mining company, conduct of immediate investigation, and submission of investigation to PAB or Pollution Adjudication Board," Cimatu said.

The DENR chief pointed out that the directive to immediately suspend the operations of Riverbend Consolidated Mining Corporation/Arc Nickel Resources, Inc. will prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.

"This is for them to face the consequences immediately. If they will be suspended, so be it. If penalty, or combination of the two, then better--to avoid this from happening again," Cimatu said.

"The disturbed surface of the mining company, their stockpiles, and their pond has overflowed due to heavy rains which had been going on for a couple of days. When it reached the river, the residents raised their concerns, particularly the fishermen," he added.

The DENR-Davao Region and local government of Banaybanay will be conducting regular monitoring of the area as the mining firm implements its environmental and control measures to address the siltation. ###