San Miguel Iron Ore Deposit Up for Grabs

With the looming prospect of the San Miguel bay to exploratory mining for iron ore deposit, we surmised the immediate areas that maybe opened. Here we conceptualized that prospective zone of one kilometer from the shore and three kilometers outward.

The same area runs in conflict with municipal ordinance that restricts the five-kilometer exclusive zone from the shoreline as protected municipal fishing waters. The ordinance gives the local fisherman a virtual ownership of the territory as their fishing ground.

The town of Sipocot foresees the villages of San Vicente, Anib, Manga, Calampinay and Cotmo as the areas identified for exploratory study. While the barangays of Barcelonita, Castillo, Pandan and Sta. Cruz of Cabusao town are earmarked for exploration. Some other areas around the bay may come up as prospects, though.

The proponent-applicant for magnetite mining, BoGo resources and mining corporation, allayed fears of the drastic change to the fishing villages nearby and the ensuing operation allegedly “is safe for the environment.”

The bay will be pockmarked with paired-holes of two inches in diameter at depths of five meters under the seabed in approximately six thousand hectares. Over thirty thousand holes will be bored just to get the desired sand samples during the exploratory phase. The operation could take about two years.

Calabanga mayor Evelyn Yu and the municipal council has already signified their negative approval on the proposed activity. Adjacent Tinambac town mayor Ruel Velarde joined the call opposing the project. Also came in the heels of unsupport in the exploratory study are those of Sipocot and Cabusao.

But the mines and geosciences bureau (MGB) of the department of natural resources and environment (DENR) is the sole agency that grants mining projects in the country. The region’s MGB branch has approved of the exploration already which has taken the stand in favor of Bogo.

The oppositors faces an uphill battle. They will have to task themselves with showing proof that the exploration rans counterproductive to the immediate population (fishers men and families) and the environment. The MGB will conduct a quarterly assessment of the activities by which a contract renewal is dependent.

By the looks of it, these mining tableau that as of now only known to few individuals is up for serious consideration.

Similar mining and productive activities, once in full operation, from other countries involved either suctioning or drilling the magnetite deposits and loading unto vessels for further segregation. Particles suctioned also include a rich volume of sand from the seabed. The process also stirs the traditional nesting and spawning areas of aquatic habitats.

The world’s top ten producers of iron are China, Australia, Brazil, India, Russia, Ukraine, United States, South Africa, Iran and Canada.

According to Wikipedia, “in some cases, the cost of shipping is greater than the value of the ore. This is of particular relevance to Brazilian iron ore, which needs to travel much further to reach China than Australian iron ore. For this reason, Australian producers have in the past argued for a premium on their ore, due to the fact that it is vastly cheaper to ship.” Bicol is twice nearer to China and South Korea than Australia.

By the way, have you looked lately into the island town of Rapu-rapu in Albay and the residents and fishermens woe?


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