Dolomite extracted by Manila Bay contractor meant only for foreign export

The dolomite extracted from Alcoy town in Southern Cebu which was processed and transported as "white sand" for the Manila Bay beautification project, was supposed to be for foreign export only.

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia told media here during a virtual press briefing on Thursday, September 10, that this was stipulated in the agreement granted to the mining company quarrying the said mineral.

She said that any other use – including processing it into synthetic sand to be dumped in Manila Bay – was not sanctioned under the existing Mineral Production Sharing Agreement.

Dolomite, also known as calcium magnesium carbonate, is a non-metallic material used in manufacturing bricks, mortar, cement, concrete, plastics, paving materials, and other construction materials.

When pulverized, dolomite resembles white sand. It is truckloads of this synthetic white sand which is being dumped near the seawall of the famed Manila Baywalk along Roxas Boulevard in what has been described as a beautification project.

The 25-year Mineral Production Service Agreement between Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC) and the government, signed back in 2005, only allowed for extraction of the mineral for export to Japan and Korea to be used for glass and steel production.

DMC extracted the dolomite from the mine near protected forest barangays. It was Philippine Mining Service Corporation (PMSC) which processed and sold these.

On Tuesday, September 8, Garcia issued a cease and desist order on "extracting, processing, selling, and transporting dolomite, associated mineral deposits and other quarry resources" to DMC and PMSC.

Garcia clarified on Thursday that the cease and desist order was only for the local sale of dolomite. This meant that the extraction for export purposes was still allowed.

Environmental protection

Garcia stressed that the work program of DMC, based on projected foreign demand, ensured the safety of the Nug-as Forest Reserve in Alcoy. This area is the natural habitat of Cebu's endemic Siloy or Black Shama bird.

However, by accepting local clients of dolomite, DMC may exceed the estimated volume it is allowed to extract under the MPSA. This can endanger wildlife in the area.

"Unsa ma'y impact niini? Kay additional volume na man ni. Mapuno na man pud ni nga makutkot didto sa Alcoy kay duna na ma'y domestic market," Garcia said.

(What could the impact be? Because this entails additional volume. More area will be dug up in Alcoy because they're now opening to the domestic market.)

No waste disposal permit

Cebu Provincial treasurer Roy Salubre said that PMSC, which processes the quarried dolomite, also failed to comply when the provincial government demand that it secure a Waste Disposal Permit (WDP) in 2019. This was required of PMSC because it has started to serve local demand of dolomite as substitute for sand and gravel.

"Until this time, wala pa sila mo-comply sa requirements nga ato silang pakuhaon og Waste Disposal Permit," he added.

(Until this time, they have not yet complied to the Province's requirement that they should secure a Waste Disposal Permit.)

Upon securing the permit, 10% of the fair market value of the dolomite being sold as a substitute for sand and gravel would go to the local government unit. Of this, 40% of the shares will go to the host barangay, while 30% each will go to the municipal government and the provincial government.

Aside from the Manila Bay beautification project, the province has no record of DMC's local clients since, Garcia said, the mining company has not been reporting it to Cebu provincial government.

Garica said she sent personnel of the Cebu Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office to the mining site to find out the actual volume being extracted by DMC. –