ZAMBALES — Vice-presidential aspirant Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday said that black sand mining along the Zambales coastlines must be stopped completely in order to prevent environmental degradation which impacts on farming and the rest of the agriculture sector.
In an interview with a local radio station, Pangilinan said “kapag winawasak ang ating kalikasan, apektado ang ating agriculture.”
“We are against the unabated black [sand] mining dito po sa ating lalawigan. Kinakailangan niyang magkaroon ng maliwanag na proseso. Ito ba ay suportado ng taumbayan ng Zambales o hindi? At kung hindi ay hindi ito dapat isinusulong,” Pangilinan said.
Residents have complained about the continuous large-scale black sand mining in Zambales Province, allegedly by Chinese nationals who use heavy equipment in their extraction operations, and then ship them out through barges.
Zambales residents have been calling for the imposition of a ban against exporting black sand ore and its derivatives. Black sand ore is also called magnetite, an ore of iron used in steel production.
As an immediate effect of the incessant black sand mining for years, the Luzon coastlines have been receding, which may lead to further massive flooding and erosion.
Responsible mining advocates have also appealed to the government to review and regulate the magnetite black sand sector to prevent its indiscriminate extraction which is detrimental to the environment.
Residents and responsible mining advocates have urged the national government to come up with a national government policy on black sand mining and to strictly monitor black sand mining operations in the country, notably in flood-prone localities.
Extracted raw black sand should be processed locally in order to benefit local industries and for it to generate jobs, they have told the government.
The domestic processing of black sand would help the revival of steel manufacturing industry in areas such as Iligan, they said. Local miners are unable to meet the demands of domestic steel manufacturing sector.