The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had just started its post-Typhoon Ulysses audit of all quarry and crushing plant operations in Rizal, but listed ATN Holdings Inc. (AHI) is already calling on the government to lift the suspension on the operations of its crushing plant in the province.
In a regulatory filing, AHI told the Philippine Stock Exchange that its crushing plant operations in Rizal, under the mineral processing permit (MPP) no. 2020-001-IV, “does not contribute to the pollution of the Marikina Riven Basin because it implements a ‘dry’ crushing process wherein all by-products are mixed back to the soil as a form of nourishment”.
“[AHI’s] dry crushing process is promoted and encouraged by the DENR-MGB [Mines and Geosciences Bureau] to minimize solids carry over that may contaminate the flow of water,” AHI said.
AHI further assured the local bourse that DENR’s “temporary suspension against the Company only covers the operation of the crushing plant and not the company’s ability to generate cash flow from its existing stockpile of 500,000 cubic meters of finished products”.
“Given that DENR has visited the plant and cleared the Company of said violation, we expect the temporary suspension against the Company will be lifted in the coming week,” it further said.
AHI’s disclosure came days after MGB temporarily suspended all quarry and crushing plant operations in Rizal Province within the coverage of Marikina River Basin, the river system of which drains toward the Marikina River.
According to MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano, the directive was in response to a call made by Rizal provincial government.
Governor Rebecca Ynares had specifically urged the DENR to suspend the mining permits of quarry operators in the province pending the conduct of a comprehensive probe as to whether quarrying contributed to the flooding in the province.
The temporary suspension includes five Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSAs) and six MPPs, including that of AHI’s.
Aside from AHI, suspension orders were also issued to Asensio-Pinzon Aggregates Corp., San Rafael Development Corp., Montalban Millex Aggregates Corp., Hardrock Aggregates, Inc., and Rapid City Realty and Development Corp., Oxford Mines, Inc., Viba Aggregates & Marketing; Amiterra Aggregates Corp., Dream Rock Resources Phils., Inc., and Superior Aggregates.
“The listed permits shall remain suspended until a joint assessment with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Composite Team has been completed and the cause of flooding in San Mateo and Rodriguez, Rizal and in Marikina City during Typhoon Ulysses on November 12, 2020 has been identified,” MGB said.
Meanwhile, AHI pointed out that such temporary suspension coincides with its two-week period of annual maintenance program including but not limited to, replacement of new conveyor belts, replacement of new vibrating screen bearings, repair of heavy mobile equipment, and new parts of the crusher hopper, which will last until next week.
It was just last week when the DENR, through its regional office in CALABARZON, has formed four composite teams to investigate quarry operations in Rizal, following the massive flooding that submerged some parts of the province and Marikina City during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses last month.
Equipped with aerial mapping drones, the investigating teams will zero in on the quarry operations within the Marikina River Basin, which residents blamed for the destructive Ulysses floods.
“The DENR has to reevaluate the operation of all mining companies in the area so we can find out whether they contributed to the massive flooding during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses,” DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement, Mining, and Muslim Affairs Jim Sampulna said.