Despite environmental concerns, JDVC Resources Corporation, a subsidiary of publicly listed company Apollo Global Capital (APL), is eager to push for the start of the commercial operation of its large-scale offshore mining in Cagayan next month.
In a statement, Jun Herrera, JDVC and APL consultant, said the first newly-built deep sea mining vessel that will be used for offshore mining operation has already arrived in Cagayan and is presently taking shelter due to strong waves.
But as soon as the ocean swell subsides, mining operations are expected to commence by mid or end February, he added.
“The first vessel has arrived and three more vessels are expected to arrive this year,” Herrera said.
The vessel is capable of commercial extraction, testing and sampling and production of magnetite iron.
Amid environmental concerns, the company also assured the government that there will be minimal impact on the sea environment as studies by a Singapore-based survey company showed that there is no coral or aquamarine life within the mining area, which is 150 meters below sea level.
APL insisted that there is no basis for a complaint from certain residents of Ballesteros, Cagayan alleging that the planned offshore mining operations of JDVC Resources will cause damage to coral beds.
“We won’t even be mining in their waters. In the first place, our mining operation will be in the waters of Buguey and Gonzaga towns, and at a distance of over 14 kilometers. That’s more than two horizon lengths away from the shoreline,” the company said.
In a letter to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Ballesteros resident Lazaro Ramos described the JDVC project as a “catastrophe”, citing a study by University of Hawaii oceanographer Craig Smith of the ocean seabed in the northeast Pacific abyssal waters.
APL clarified that the study cited by Ballesteros identified a different part of the ocean compared to the mining site.
“That’s a different part of the Pacific. It looks at the ocean bed more than 200 meters below sea level, whereas we can only go down to 150 meters with current technology,” the company said.
“Moreover, the Smith study did not look at magnetite iron reserves. From the experience of countries like Indonesia, Japan, and New Zealand, magnetite iron is known to be toxic to corals, fish and other aquamarine life,” it added.
To confirm this, JDVC commissioned a Singapore survey company to conduct a full “sea bottom profile” of its mining tenements off Cagayan. Indeed, no corals or aquamarine life were to be found.
As to allegations that affected Cagayan residents were unaware of the project, the company also denied this, saying that it conducted consultations with all the residents of Buguey and Gonzaga over the past years.
Just recently, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) granted an $8 million credit line to JDVC to help the firm bankroll the aforementioned magnetite iron mining project.