Chamber supports restricted coastal mining

Published May 31, 2021, 3:58 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Offshore Mining Chamber of the Philippines (OMCP) has batted for restricted coastal mining after they expressed their support to the proposed ban on sand mining in some coastal towns in the Ilocos region.

In a statement, OMCP, composed of operational and non-operational offshore mining firms in the country, said only those with the expertise and proper technology should be allowed to undertake mining operations in offshore areas, not in shorelines, to prevent further shoreline erosions.

The group issued the statement after they expressed its support for the ban on coastal mining, following the position expressed by Probinsyano Ako party-list representative Jose “Bonito” Singson, Jr. during a congressional hearing.

To be specific, Singson wants to stop the practice of some mining firms, especially those owned by the Chinese, of extracting sand from shorelines in Ilocos region in search of magnetite iron.

OMCP then pointed out that there are government guidelines that ordered no mining should be allowed within the 500 meters from the shorelines to offshore and that no mining 200 meters from on shoreline to inland areas of any coastal town. This is to prevent possible coastal erosion.

The guidelines were issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on May 16, 2016. Other provisions of the guidelines include an application for Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) from the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau; dredgers or mining vessel must have Environmental Impact Assessment from the country of design and/or manufacture; companies involved in offshore mining or dredging must have ISO Certificate on their Offshore Mining or Dredging Standards of operation for Environmental Protection and Ecological Balance.

Likewise, offshore mining firms must be adequately capitalized as environmentally safe and ecologically balanced offshore mining vessels are capital intensive, complete with experienced technical people.

The OMCP said offshore mining is relatively a new mining concept and needed professional capabilities and expertise So far, only one mining company — JDVC Resources Corporation — has been approved and fully permitted to do offshore large-scale mining operations to mine magnetite iron deposits off Cagayan.

JDVC has already deployed its first deep-sea mining vessel, the MB Siphon 1, which has started to do its site developmental stage, preliminary sea bed trenching, and bulk sampling preparatory to commercial export shipment.