Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Aetas to engage in small-scale mining soon, thanks to Mt. Pinatubo

IBA, Zambales- Indigenous peoples (IPs) of this province, commonly known as Aetas, will soon engage in small-scale mining-thanks to Mount Pinatubo.

Gov. Amor Deloso said a Hong Kong- based businessman, Peter Liu, has agreed to buy the precious “black sand” that was spat out by Mount Pinatubo when it erupted in 1991.

Some 30 Aetas families, he said, will benefit from the undertaking, which could start in the first week of October.

According to Deloso, the Maraunot River, located on the eastern part of Botolan, was clogged by black sand when Mount Pinatubo erupted. “Little did we metallic minerals,” he said.

He said there is an estimated 4 billion tons of such mineral deposit in the said river, which the Aeta families can extract and sell to Peter Liu.

About 60.7 percent of the black sand is iron, while 5 percent is titanium.
Black sand could be a source of high-quality iron. That’s why the prospect of small-scale mining is very good, Deloso said.

Deloso said he is looking at initially issuing small-scale mining permits covering 1,000 hectares, which he said will be divided equally into five to benefit 30 families who live in the area, the land being part of the Aeta’s ancestral domain.

He estimated that with 1,000 hectare being mined out, 2.5 million tons a year can be extracted in the next two years, with the Aeta families getting P20 per ton, while the provincial government will be able to generate income of $5 per ton.

“I’ve already talked to Mr. Liu and the Aeta families will finally benefit from the mining permit,” he said.

Deloso said Liu will use a machine that can separate metallic minerals such as iron and titanium from the black sand. The machine is worth $300 million. J. Mayuga

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