The San Miguel bay is a shallow, estuarine body of water with an area of 1,115 square kms. It is bounded by seven coastal municipalities that include Mercedes and Basud in Camarines Norte, and Sipocot, Cabusao, Calabanga, Tinambac and Siruma in Camarines Sur. The national census and statistics office estimates population in the 74 coastal barangays to have reached 93,000. The main sources of income of residents are agriculture, fishery and forestry.
The obtaining current environment in the area may endure some changes in the very near future with the entry of a new player. Bogo resources and Mining corporation (BRMC) has been granted by the mines and geosciences bureau (MGB) to explore iron-ore sand in approximately one third of the bay’s offshore area.
Iron ore or magnetite is used as alloy in the production of steel. China, Australia, India and the south american country of Brazil are known to be traditional major producers of the mineral. Other than the Bicol bay, the areas surrounding Cagayan and Zamboanga are positive for the presence of the precious mineral. The hungry metal factories of China and South Korea command good demand for iron-ore.
Iron-ore sand deposits settled on the San Miguel water basin from the nearby mountains which process started millions of years ago.
BRMC, a Filipino-Korean corporation, is poised at conducting offshore drillings to gather samples for lab testing in the process of determining the mineral quality of the sand. The initial exploratory step could last for two years and entails drilling five two-inch wide holes up to a depth of five meters per hectare. Approximately 6,089 hectareage in the bay will be covered with 30,445 holes to obtain sand samples. Offshore drilling of magnetite is the first of its kind in the country.
Top photo of San Miguel bay fishermen, coming ashore from their fishing activity. The seven towns bordering the bay facing the prospect of mining are labelled and dotted red on the map.