Aquino urged to stop offshore mining in Negros
Bacolod City — Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and the mayors of Negros Occidental are asking President Aquino to stop offshore mining of magnetite-laden sand, citing irreversible damage to the province’s coastal areas and marine ecosystems.
They also asked Aquino to direct the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) to stop accepting and processing applications for exploration and offshore magnetite sand mining in Negros Occidental and to revoke permits already granted.
The opposition was contained in a resolution addressed to the President and signed by the mayors and the governors following a meeting in L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod on Thursday.
A copy of the resolution would be sent to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje.
In a resolution, the province’s chief executives vowed not to allow offshore magnetite sand mining, especially on a massive scale due to its irreversible damage to the coastal ecosystems and the coastal resources.
They pointed out that dredging of millions of metric tons of sand would only put to waste their initiatives in coastal fisheries resources management and the province’s vision of setting up a network of marine protected areas for sustainable benefits, especially for the marginalized fisher folks.
These initiatives, they added, cost millions of pesos of public funds.
Offshore magnetite sand mining violates the statutory prohibition on the removal of any substance that make up the marine habitat, the Negros officials also said.
While exploration activities might not require consent from the local government units, they said the DENR must respect the policy of the province and must not mislead potential investors into thinking that magnetite sand mining would be allowed eventually.
Provincial Environment Management officer Ma. Aleta Nuñez said offshore magnetite sand mining involves suctioning of millions of tons of sand from the sea bottom and screening these for magnetite ore. Then 95 percent of the sand would be dumped back in.
Removing magnetite ores that hold the sand together and balance the temperature of both sand and water would damage the quality of sand and temperature of the waters, Nuñez said.
This would affect 14 marine protected areas in Negros Occidental with a total area of 36,533 square kilometers, she added. /INQUIRER
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