Magnetite Mining in
the Offshore Areas of Cagayan*
*Excerpt from the policy research
conducted by KADUAMI entitled 'Mining in Cagayan Valley: A Study
on the Effects on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Food Security and Human
Rights.' Policy research was first presented on the 3rd EED-TFIP
National Conference on Indigenous Peoples' Food Security held on
March 29-30, 2008.
The Republic Act 7942 popularly known as the Philippine
Mining Act of 1995 is a brainchild of President Fidel Ramos and
a part and parcel of the Medium Term Development Plan or the Philippines
2000 program. The Philippines 2000 aims to comprehensively open
the Philippine economy to foreign capital investments through deregulation
(relaxation of government control to the economy), liberalization
(removal or lessening of trade tariffs on imported goods and capital)
and privatization of the public sector of the economy. These plans
constitute the globalization in the Philippines.
These national policies have opened up vast tracts of Cagayan Valley's
land to the control of big mining transnational companies (TNCs).
In 2004, President Arroyo passed EO 270 which brought forth the
Mineral Action Plan (MAP) to strengthen the Mining Act. These shortened
the time of processing of mining applications, "harmonized"
conflicting laws that contradict the Mining Act, and subvert the
people's rights to oppose mining projects.
The Philippines offshore area including the Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ) is estimated at 2.2 million km2. Potential mineral
offshore resources are placer minerals including gold, chromites,
magnetite, silica and aggregate resources (sand & gravel), decorative
stones, manganese nodules/encrustation with associated copper, gold,
zinc, and cobalt.
In June 2007, the then Secretary of Department of
Environment and Natural Resources Angelo Reyes approved 11 new projects
which include 6 mineral production sharing agreement and 5 exploration
permits. Three of the five exploration permits were approved to
Colossal Mining Corporation (CMC).
Colossal Mining Corporation, a 100 % Filipino owned
company that engages in exploration, mining, and production of iron
ore in the Philippines, holds three exploration permits of 36,000
hectares of offshore magnetite iron ore sites in Northern Luzon
(Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, and Ilocos Sur) of which 13,483.89 hectares
are located in the province of Cagayan alone, situated in the municipal
waters of Sanchez Mira, Pamplona, Abulug, Ballesteros, Appari, Buguey
and Gonzaga of Cagayan. Colossal Mining Corporation is a partner
of Bonaparte Diamond Mines NL, the sole company based in Australia
that conducts marine diamond exploration.
What is Magnetite?
Magnetite is a magnetic and very dense (heavy)
mineral of iron. Its chemical formula is Fe3O4. It has many industrial
uses. Magnetite is an important source of iron for the iron and
steel industries but it also has other uses as an industrial mineral
to produce many value-added products. High-grade magnetite is used
in many chemical processes including the production of iron sulfate,
which is used to purify water in many major cities. Magnetite's
weight per volume makes it an important source of aggregate in the
production of heavy concrete. Heavy concrete is used from the construction
of baffles and containment tanks in nuclear power plants to things
as everyday as counter weights in household washing machines.
Cagayan People's Struggle against Magnetite Mining
In 2005, United Philippine-China Mining Corporation
tried to drill and explore magnetite sand in the off-shore area
of Brgys. Masisit and Namuac in Sanchez Mira. The company set-up
a bunk houses and was able to operate for more than two months for
sedimentary sampling. Residents protested and set-up a barricade
in the area, calling for the company's withdrawal from its operations.
People from the affected areas, together with the church sector
being led by Bishop Diosdado Talamayen, lawyers, medical doctors
and other professionals and other pro-environment individuals have
conducted series of education activities and mass actions. They
said, a consultation was held but not all stakeholders were invited.
The operation stopped and company's equipment was pulled out. But
another exploration of the area is at hand, now in the name of CMC.
At present, residents in Pamplona, Cagayan which
is part of the area stated in the CMCs EP, have been conducting
information and education campaigns against the impending entry
and operation of the country. Four barangays in Pamplona have submitted
a petition to the municipal council against the entry of this company.
The municipal council has yet to take further action.
In Aparri, Cagayan, residents told the research
team that on February 29, 2008, three sea vessels have docked and
drilled magnetite sand along the off-shore area. Residents have
trooped to the area of drilling operation and drove away the drillers.
The drillers were able to get approximately 200 kls. of magnetite
sand, according to residents, before they flee to other offshore
areas of Cagayan. When the team was to leave the area, it has spotted
a sea vessel still docked on a port in Aparri. The team documented
and presented this to the MGB-Region II. Officials of the MGB-Region
II were surprised upon seeing the photo and video documents, saying
that this should not be allowed because this could be a case of
minerals smuggling if this be transported outside the country. According
to them, before anyone could transfer minerals abroad, the company
has to secure an Ore Transportation Permit (OTP). They said this
will be investigated by the MGB, together with the Bureau of Customs.
Potential Risks/ Effects
These mining projects claim to provide benefits to the people. The
battle continues as people in the mining-affected communities in
the region do not want to accept these as they are drawing the lessons
in the experiences of others who have been victimized by mining
Offshore mining of magnetite in Cagayan can increase
vulnerability to floods as magnetiteholds the sand together. The
absence of magnetite in the sand can deplete and erode the coastal
and near-shore areas as the experience of Bauang, La Union has shown.
Bauang municipal government is now putting up seawalls as a mitigating
measure for possible flooding.
On Sources of Livelihood and Food Security:
" Loss of farmlands near the coastal areas
due to flooding brought about by coastal erosion and depletion
" Loss of marine sources of food and livelihood, especially
in coastal areas of the region
On IP rights
The mining areas being targeted for explorations
are usually those in remote areas being occupied by various ethno-linguistic
groups classified as IPs that the main source of livelihood are
farming and fishing. These groups also suffer from government neglect,
denying them of even the most basic social services.
There is a need to develop a new mining code that
is not created for the purpose of serving the interests of big mining
TNCs and local elites, but for the national industrialization that
will cater to the needs of the country's populace.
a) Development of IEC materials to popularize and continue the struggle
against mining operations;
b) Strengthen the peoples organizations and alliances
in the area to launch concerted mass actions and increase participation
in local governance
c) Broaden the network of advocacy groups that will
support the mass actions and help in the projection of the issue
at the national and international levels
d) Support the resolutions and petitions passed
by the local government units opposing these mining operations
e) Support the policy recommendations and actions
being undertaken both at the lower and upper houses
f) Continue to create national and international
pressure on the mining firms concerned *