Ilocos Norte gives sand mining a chance
LAOAG CITY, Philippines—The official who led the provincial board of Ilocos Norte into banning black sand mining six months ago has softened his position.
On Monday, Board Member Joel Garcia sponsored a new resolution “rationalizing the position of the Ilocos Norte government on black sand mining.”
Garcia’s resolution also urged the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) “to rigorously enforce the provisions, policies and guidelines” of Executive Order No. 79 and Republic Act No. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995).
In October last year, the provincial board unanimously approved a resolution that banned black sand-mining operations in 21 towns and two cities of Ilocos Norte. Garcia authored the resolution.
When asked about his sudden change of mind, Garcia said: “Our laws, particularly RA 7942 and EO 79 (President Aquino’s mining policy), provide clear-cut definitions of where not to mine, such as [areas] that may affect our critical watersheds and several protected areas.”
He also acknowledged that the ban may result in “undue prejudice” to investors who have acquired valid mining permits, contracts or agreements with the government.
“It is not the intention of the Ilocos Norte government to injure the rights of persons or entities who are engaged in legitimate black sand-mining operations here,” Garcia said.
“It is possible that there are [businessmen] who were granted contracts to engage in black sand mining and it would be unfair to them if we impose a total ban,” he said.
Garcia’s draft resolution was referred to the board’s committee on environment.
The MGB website said two of the 104 approved mineral processing permits in the country are in Ilocos Norte and these involve magnetite, or black sand.
Skymark International Mining and Mineral Corp. was allowed to operate in Currimao town on July 21, 2010, and its permit will expire on July 7, 2015.
Fortune Allied Northern Philippines Inc. was granted a permit to mine magnetite sand in San Nicolas town from
Oct. 25, 2012, to Oct. 24, 2017.
The MGB has granted a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) for the extraction of feldspar and other associated deposits in Burgos town.
The project has been operated by Ferlind Dancel, a resident of Pasuquin town, since Dec. 14, 2005. The permit will expire in December 2030.
The MGB website said Altamina Exploration and Resources Inc. has been granted a financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) covering 9,588.24 hectares in the towns of Currimao, Pinili and Badoc in Ilocos Norte; the towns of Magsingal, Sto. Domingo, San Vicente, Santa Catalina, Caoayan, Santa, Narvacan, Santa Maria, Sinait, Esteban, Santiago, Candon, San Juan and Cabugao, and Vigan City in Ilocos Sur province; and the towns of San Fabian, Mangaldan, Binmaley and Lingayen, and the cities of Alaminos and Dagupan in Pangasinan province. The project started on June 29, 2010.
MGB records said industrial sand and gravel permits had been issued to global sand exporter, Omnico Natural Resources Inc. (ONRI), from Oct. 5, 2011, to Oct. 4, 2016, which covered lands in the villages of San Antonio, San Lorenzo, San Miguel, San Marcos, Santo Tomas, San Felipe and San Antonio in Sarrat town near the Padsan River.
ONRI operates a sand-processing plant near the Padsan River in Sarrat, with a capacity of 3,500 metric tons of magnetite sand per day and an international conveyor port in Barangay (village) Gabut Norte in Badoc town. ONRI began exporting construction sand to Japan and Singapore in April 2009.
Colossal Mining Corp., represented by businessman Cedric Lee, was granted a permit on Aug. 7, 2007, to extract magnetite sand from 3,089.698 ha of offshore properties in Laoag City, and the Ilocos Norte towns of Bacarra and Paoay.
The MGB has approved Colossal’s second renewal application for the permit, which will expire on April 18, 2015.
The MGB website said 86 of 158 applications for onshore and offshore magnetite mining in Ilocos region were in Ilocos Norte. Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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