Black sand mining in Cagayan goes off-shore
Large-scale mining operations for magnetite are shifting to offshore areas in the northern towns of Cagayan province, records of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed.
MGB records said at least four mining companies are eyeing to conduct black sand mining activities in the Cagayan towns of Sanchez Mira, Pamplona, Abulug, Ballesteros, Aparri, Buguey and Gonzaga.
Peniel Resources Mining Corp., JDVC Resources Corp., T&T Resources and Mining Corp. and J&M Resources Mining and Exploration Corp. have each entered into a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) with the government, for an area covering 53,664 hectares offshore in northern Cagayan, the MGB said.
The MPSA is one of the large-scale mining licenses that the government can grant under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act No. 7942).
But residents and environment advocates in Cagayan expressed their alarm over the planned extraction activities, vowing to oppose any continued black sand mining activity there.
“Time has come again that these mining companies and the government agencies supporting them come to us because they need us to be able to comply with the requirements. We will be vigilant and raise our voices to reject these projects,” said Art Alariao, president of the Federation of Environmental Advocates of Cagayan.
The EMB is conducting a public hearing today (June 23) in Buguey town to review the project that would be carried out by Peniel Resources there and in Aparri and Gonzaga towns.
The company needs to conduct a public hearing before it can be issued its environmental compliance certificate for the project, said Maribeth Tumaliuan, MGB Cagayan Valley regional mining claims examiner.
The INQUIRER tried but failed to reach lawyer Regina Batac, Peniel Resources president, on Monday. Shiella Santos, the firm’s tenements supervisor, said Batac could only be reached through e-mail.
Offshore mining operations follow the inland extraction activities in the northern coastal communities of Cagayan from 2009 to 2014, through small-scale mining and commercial quarry permits issued by the provincial government, and industrial sand and gravel permits from the MGB.
Government records showed that from five years of operations, Chinese firms were able to ship at least 2.4 million tons of magnetite from Cagayan to China through Port Irene, the main port of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Santa Ana town.
“All shipment recorded China as port of destination,” Joyce Jayme-Calimag, public relations chief of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, the government agency that manages the free port, said in an earlier interview.
The Port Irene figures, which comprised a total for 331 shipments, did not include magnetite shipments that came out of the port in Aparri town, which is run by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Calimag said.
Magnetite is said to be the most magnetic of all naturally occurring minerals and is a sought-after additive to steel used in the construction industry.
“Highly questionable permits were issued to Chinese companies in the past which were used to deplete the magnetite resources of Cagayan. Now that these areas have been mined out, they are again being allowed by the government to go offshore,” said Rosbin Tacuboy of the local Catholic diocesan social action commission.
Once approved, Peniel Resources’ mining activity will scour the seabed about 9 to 15 kilometers offshore and extract magnetite sand from an area of 5,000 ha.
Extracted black sand will be loaded on a floating plant vessel, which, in turn, will separate the magnetite from the sand, before it is hauled by a support seacraft to another cargo vessel for shipment abroad, according to the project fact sheet that the company submitted to the EMB.
Peniel Resources’ offshore mining venture will produce about 2.5 million tons of magnetite yearly, the document said.#
As published in the Phil. Daily Inquirer, June 23, 2015