MAJOR offshore mining groups have expressed their interest in the Philippines after Executive Order (EO) No. 130 opened the door for new projects, according to the Offshore Mining Chamber of the Philippines (OMCP).

OMCP Chairman Gary B. Olivar said in a statement Sunday that the companies include Primetals Technologies Ltd. of Austria; Duro Felguera SA of Spain; Nakanishi Shipbuilding, Kurimoto Iron Works, Kansai Design Co., and JTrade Co. of Japan, and other such companies based in Indonesia, Malta, Australia, China, and Hong Kong.

Due to rising international interest, Mr. Olivar asked the national government to initiate a review of tenement claims to facilitate the entry of new investors, and to deploy equipment to lay the groundwork for proper exploration, seabed scientific research, and sea bottom profiling.

“The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should start a review of its mine tenement ownership systems and processes, with a view towards delisting inactive tenement claims,” Mr. Olivar said.

“Land banking can occur offshore as well as onshore and must be curbed in the greater interest of spurring this new industry to contribute to the recovery,” he added.

Mr. Olivar said one of OMCP’s members, Cagayan Blue Offshore Aquamarine Services Corp. (CBO), recently invested in an offshore exploration tug, which has arrived in  Manila.

He said the vessel will be soon deployed to Cagayan and Pangasinan for offshore exploration, the dredging of flood-stricken areas, and river widening.

According to Mr. Olivar, the vessel has specialized equipment that allows it to see up to 100 meters below the sea bottom to assess the presence of mineral resources, and also identify objects which must be avoided by minersm such as coral, cables, old bombs, and sunken vessels.  

CBO has been engaged by JDVC Resources Corp. and its parent Apollo Global Capital, Inc. for the preparation of the seabed, bulk sampling, efficient trenching of offshore areas, and all seabed developmental stages in preparation for the commercial production and export of magnetite iron.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed EO 130 on April 14, which removed a ban on the issuance of new mining agreements, in an effort to boost government revenue and help the economy recover from the pandemic. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave