“A step closer towards a mineral industry that is not only prosperous but also socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.”

By: Philippine Resources July 18, 2022

Photo: Group photo of the participants during the second day of the seminar.

That is how, Dr. Rogel A. Santos, the OIC-Chief of the Marine Geological Survey Division (MGSD) of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) recounted the seminar-workshop that was held on June 6-8, 2022 at Subic Bay Travelers Hotel in Subic Bay, Zambales. The seminar-workshop: “Application of Marine Geophysics and Ecosystem Studies on the Development of Guidelines for Offshore Mining Monitoring” is spearheaded by the Marine Mineral Exploration Section (MMES) of MGSD which is also headed by Dr. Santos, as the section chief. The event brought together the different offshore mining companies and several experts from various government agencies and the academe including the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), MGB, Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI), and the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) to achieve one goalꟷ to kickstart the formulation of guidelines for monitoring and regulating of the offshore mineral extraction activities in the country.

On December 2020, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) permitted the first large scale offshore mining activity in the Philippines. And since then, the number of mining permits and applications submitted to MGB have been growing, showing that there is a dramatic increase in interest on the mining of mineral resources offshore, whether due to accelerating demand for raw materials or decline of terrestrial mineral resources.

However, as the offshore mining and exploration of marine resources is relatively new in the country, there is a growing public concern on its possible impact to the environment and the coasts that could put the livelihood of the coastal populace at stake.

According to Atty. Wilfredo G. Moncano, the MGB Director, on his welcome remarks, the seminar-workshop is timely as it aims to establish a common ground on which offshore mineral extraction operations are monitored and regulated by developing a comprehensive set of guidelines on marine mineral exploration, extraction, and reporting.

He also added that, “These guidelines will ensure that the conduct of offshore mining and exploration activities is acceptable and beneficial to all its stakeholders, the government, and the environment.”

Likewise, the first two days of the seminar-workshop was particularly allotted for the presentations and discussion of the possible impacts of offshore mining to the environment and the coastal zones and how to monitor and manage these impacts.

For the first day of the seminar, seafloor mapping and marine exploration as well as the introduction of seismic methods and its offshore marine exploration applications was featured in the presentation of Dr. Leo T. Armada of UP-NIGS. A comprehensive science-based guidelines and monitoring program in order to effectively manage the environmental impacts of offshore mining was elaborated by the UP-MSI as represented by Dr. Charina Amedo-Repollo, Dr. Michael Atrigenio, & Dr. Michael Roleda. The BMB-Coastal and Marine Division, on the other hand, discussed the potential impacts of offshore mining in marine ecosystem including their suggested monitoring system of the offshore activity. While the MGB- Mine Safety, Environment, and Social Development Division tackled the adaptation of the suggested Monitoring Checklist and Multipartite Monitoring Team on mining areas in the Philippines.

A major concern throughout the session is the potential effect of the turbidity brought by the offshore mining or dredging operations that could spread and harm the marine flora and fauna.

On the second day, the different participating companies and government agencies such as the VIL Mines-Boskalis (San Nicholas Shoal Project), PRA-Boskalis (Manila Bay Reclamation Project), Peniel Resources, and JDVC shared their offshore mining or exploration practices and activities. Relevant technologies for offshore activities were also featured during this session by the Scan Marine Inc., and the Sea and Land Technologies (SALT).  

A highlight of this session is the “Green Valve Technology”introduced by Boskalis which according to them could reduce the turbidity caused by the dredging operations.

The Coastal and Offshore Geological Section (COGGS) of MGSD stressed the importance of the establishment of baseline data through physical coastal vulnerability assessment and determination of closure depth, the depth where sediment transport and morphodynamic process is very limited or inactive. They also emphasized that offshore dredging /mining activities can impact the coast, hence, effective strategies to reduce these impacts should be considered.

Moreover, brief discussions on the offshore mining tenements and the offshore mining Guidelines in the Philippines were also highlighted during this session as presented by the Mining Tenements Management Division and the Mining Technology Division of the MGB respectively.

Summing up the seminar, an overview of the Philippine Mineral Reporting Code (PMRC) 2020 and the reporting standard for marine mineral exploration with reference to the PMRC 2020 was presented by the PMRC Committee represented by Mr. George Baquiran and Dr. Rogel A. Santos, on the third day.

The workshop plenary ended with the finalization of the draft of the checklist and guidelines for Marine Mineral exploration and Mining and reporting Standard for offshore Exploration that was led by the MGSD-MMES. To cap the three-day activity, the RPS Explorer was opened to participants for an observation tour.  Participants were shown of the basic function of the vessel with the sampling and data gathering procedures briefly discussed by the technical staff of the MGSD.

With the recently conducted seminar regarding the Development of Guidelines for Offshore Mining Monitoring, the MGSD team is looking forward to the final development of these guidelines as these would serve as commutuality among others on the responsible monitoring and regulation of offshore mineral exploration and mining.


Article courtesy of the MGB

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