BY: Roel T. Amazona
CATBALOGAN CITY – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said that the government of President Rodrigo Duterte is serious on its campaign to protect the environment.
Cimatu issued this assurance in an interview during the 30th founding anniversary of the 8th Infantry Division, this city, on Wednesday (July 1).
Cimatu said that they will comply with the directive of Pres. Duterte during his State of the Nation Address (Sona) for mining companies to repair their mined areas to help the government’s effort for sustainable development.
The environment secretary said that to ensure that the country will benefit more on mined minerals, the government has invited investors to build up processing plants.
The DENR chief said that once the two companies start their operations on processing mined minerals, his office will deploy personnel there to regularly check their compliance on environmental laws.
“I will be putting in a DENR personnel sa loob mismo ng company. Ang kanilang trabaho to check and the protection of the environment,” Cimatu said.
The two China-based companies will put up their processing plants in Zambales.
A Russia-based company, meanwhile, will construct a similar company in Surigao.
Cimatu said that, as of this time, their agency has not received any application for mineral extraction but only for mineral exploration.
He added that in the meeting with the stakeholders of mining industry last July 30, one of the topics they discussed was the immediate rehabilitation of the mined land by planting trees.
The DENR is encouraging mining companies to plant bamboo in mined areas instead of trees because of its big demand in the world market, particularly China.
Bamboos could be used in the construction, production of paper, textile, and in the medical and agriculture.
The grass has also potential to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, making it useful to the environment.
“When they extract mineral they have to plant trees immediately para hindi madisturb yung ano. Ang tinitingnan namin ngayon is yung bamboo, instead of other trees,” Cimatu said.
“Sayang kasi yung mined areas na hindi naman nagagamit. Kasi in an area, let say of 5,000 hectares, only 30 percent are mineralized the remaining 70 percent ay walang mineral, so we might as well plant bamboo sa lugar niyan kasi napakalaki ng demand. Pag pinutol mo ang kahoy wala na pero itong bamboo pag pinutol mo at ibenta mo meron pang tutubo ulit that is why we are very interested in this was of reinventing mining,” he added.
The mining industry is slowly transitioning to a more environmental friendly mining activity that is not destructive to the environment unlike the open-pit mining, Cimatu disclosed.