The Provincial Government of Davao de Oro has urged the remaining ball mill operators and plant owners to now vacate Barangay Diwata, Monkayo.
Gov. Jayvee Tyrone Uy revealed to reporters on Friday that at least 190 out of the 390 ball mill operators and land owners engaged in the mining activity in Mt. Diwata (commonly known as Mt. Diwalwal) have already transferred to Barangay Mabatas.
A year ago, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) XI issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO) on operators of carbon-in-pulp (CIPs) and ball mills in Barangay Diwalwal as a move to fully implement the rehabilation of Naboc River.
The DENR XI directed that the processing plants in Diwalwal should be transfered to the Mine Processing Zone in Barangay Mabatas.
While most of operators have already transferred to Mabatas, Uy said “there are still those (individuals) who practice wrong waste disposal to the river, which pushed the provincial government to reinforce and reactivate the Davao Task Force Naboc River.”
He emphasized that the government is not stopping the mining operation, but is only putting an end to the improper disposal of wastes that directly go to the river.
“In Mabatas area, we have mitigating measures (implemented). We have (installed) structures that will prevent the wastes from going to our waterways as there is already a (dam) in the area,” the governor added.
Uy also reiterated that the operators who already transferred can avail of the assistance coming from the government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“(We) have proposed, together with Congressman (Manuel) Waykurat Zamora, to the Department of Labor and Employment for an assistance to the workers who have been displaced (from job) in Diwalwal,” he said, stressing that the government also understands that transfer will also affect some workers.
The Davao Task Force Naboc River targets to complete soon the relocation of the small-scale gold processing operators to Mabatas to fully implement the Provincial Naboc River Rehabilitation Masterplan in reviving the river.
The provincial governor also bared that they have started the dredging operations in Naboc River as part of the rehabilitation program.
“We have already given permission to the contractors to undergo dredging to recover the mercury and cyanide,” she said.
In a previous study conducted by the DENR-Environment Management Board (EMB), the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO), it was found out that the river has a high concentration of mercury.