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Solon says sand extraction destroying Lingayen coasts

10:22 PM January 26, 2012

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño on Tuesday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to reject up to 160 applications for magnetite (black sand) mining in the Ilocos region, after seeing destructive mining operations in this town’s coastal villages.

Casiño inspected suspected illegal magnetite mining operations in the region, including a black sand vessel that ran aground near the shore here last week.

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Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures was criticized for quarrying the black sands of Barangay Sabangan in November last year. Black sand quarrying went on there and the villages of Malinpuec, Estansa and Capandanan since July last year.

“I support the call of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the local government officials and the people of Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte who are opposed to magnetite mining,” he said in a statement.

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“Onshore and offshore mining for magnetite … will not redound to the benefit of local people and even the national government in terms of revenue and long-term use of this natural resource,” he said.

Magnetite ore, which is used in the production of steel, helps generate high-density concrete. It is part of the ordinary toner used by photocopy machines and serves as high-temperature coating for steam boilers.

Casino met with Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan here to explain that his office was gathering information for improved small-scale mining regulation, especially for pocket miners gathering magnetite sand.

Baraan said the provincial government had considered the black sand coastline for ecotourism.

Also pending at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau  are 15 magnetite mining applications for La Union, 57 for Ilocos Sur and 86 for Ilocos Norte.

“While there are no pending applications in Pangasinan, residents are not in favor of any magnetite mining project since it would destroy coastlines, diminish fish catch and bring untold disasters when natural calamities strike,” Casiño said.

“We shall see how Congress can help local governments in resisting the influx of projects that will extract our finite resources and will only benefit foreign firms instead of the Filipino people. We shall file the appropriate measure in the House soonest,” he said.

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Casiño is the main author of House Bill No. 4315 (People’s Mining Act), which aims to reorient the mining industry by making it lawful for local governments and local communities to accept or refuse mining projects in their areas. The proposed measure seeks to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act No. 7942). Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Environmental Issues, Lingayen, Mining, Pangasinan
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