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For export to Singapore: Mt. Pinatubo sand

/ 09:27 PM October 12, 2011

BOTOLAN, Zambales—Once the rains stop, sand spewed out by Mount Pinatubo that had silted waterways in Zambales will become a source of revenue when it is exported to Singapore, local officials said.

Mayor Nerma Yap said sand from the volcano’s eruptions in 1991, that had caused the siltation of Zambales’ river systems and flooding during storms, “will be finally put to good use.”

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“In the past, this has been a big problem for us. But now, a solution has finally arrived,” she said.

Yap said Blue Max, a company backed by Korean and Chinese investors, will dredge the Bucao River here to extract the sand and ship it to buyers in Singapore.

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The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) last month repaired an eroded portion of the Sto. Tomas River Megadike in San Felipe town to prevent the lahar-filled river from breaching the embankment and flooding farms and residential and commercial areas there.

The repair was carried out as the province reeled from the effects of Typhoon “Pedring,” which battered coastal areas here.

Carlos Zapata, president of Blue Max, said the venture is led by Filipino entrepreneurs “but the task is so big that we needed the cooperation of our [foreign partners].”

He said buyers in Singapore have been requesting for tests to determine sand quality. “We’re glad that they finally said yes. It was acceptable to them,” he said.

Zapata said the project would start with the dredging of the Bucao River. “If we’re successful, then we can help the community,” he said.

Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., a former public works secretary, said “sand is still flowing down the mountains” 20 years after Mt. Pinatubo erupted. He said at least 6.5 billion cubic meters of sand fell into the Sto. Tomas, Maloma and Bucao rivers.

Sand for reclamation projects in countries like Singapore usually come from Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam, he said. Buyers of Zambales sand had to be foreigners because they have resources to ship the sand out, he said.

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Blue Max, the governor said, could add P200 million in revenues a year to the province. “The material that made our lives miserable since 1991 will become manna from heaven,” he added.

Danilo Uykieng, regional director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, said the Zambales government has an agreement with Blue Max to dredge the river and the program of work had been approved by the DPWH.

Uykieng said Zambales officials have started processing permits for the dredging operations. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon

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TAGS: Export, Livelihood, Mount Pinatubo sand, Singapore, Zambales province
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