CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- After hurdling the P2 billion revenue target poised by Governor Lilia Pineda last year, quarry stakeholders in the province are facing a bigger challenge as the supply of Pampanga’s “white gold” or high quality sand continues to dwindle.
On Wednesday, Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office (PGenro) chief Engr. Art Punsalan disclosed that that there is a shortage of supply of sand and some quarry materials in the province and that immediate measures and interventions would have to be put in place to strictly regulate quarrying operations.
“We currently have low supply of sand, kasi walang source due to natural compaction of the province’s upstream portion. It has not been raining lately that is why sand is not cascading to the quarry sites. The supply is not as good as before. It’s a factor of nature at work,” he told SunStar Pampanga.
Capitol, Punsalan said, is acting on the shortage that is seen to affect quarry revenues that benefit thousands of stakeholders.
“Together with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, we have called the attention of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to help us with the study of engineering interventions to address the issue of scarcity, but it will take time,” he said.
Suspension of quarry operations
Punsalan said that PGenro is addressing the problem by conducting thorough rapid assessment and evaluation and will also implement a rehabilitation plan to help solve the province’s declining quarry supply.
“As part of this rehabilitation plan, we are looking at suspending operations within the areas assessed as over-quarrying zones, to give way for actual replenishment, like in the cases of Bacolor, Mexico, Porac, and Floridablanca which are now under environment audit,” he said.
“Also, we’ve been discussing with our local government executives that we really need to limit the hauling of sand from our province to other areas in the country like Metro Manila where 80 to 90 percent of our sand goes. It could be done by cubic meter. Then the sand we use for filling materials and other by products will similarly be vibro-processed to help contain shortage. If we do not regulate as early as now, especially this coming dry season which is the construction period, we’re going to face a more serious problem in the future,” furthered Punsalan.
There are other options, he added, like sand from Zambales and Tarlac provinces, but haulers and contractors prefer Pampanga for quarry materials for quality and economic reasons.
“There are other sources of sand from Zambales and Tarlac but haulers prefer Pampanga because of distance and economic reasons it entails. From Zambales, for instance, their sand has to be transported by barge. Economically, it is not that good. Besides, Pampanga has a really established system when it comes to quarry operations and hauling,” noted Punsalan.
Conserve resources for megalopolis project
Punsalan said that regulation is also much needed in anticipation of forthcoming development projects the Pampanga Megalopolis Plan and the Clark Green City.
“With these projects coming up, the more we have to preserve and make sure we have ample supply of sand in Pampanga. We really need to prepare for these big developments by conserving our natural resources,” he said.
Still looking good
Despite the shortage in the supply of sand, Punsalan remains optimistic that quarry revenues will continue to be stable. “Quarry revenues will definitely be affected but we remain optimistic it will not be that big because of the immediate action stakeholders are now taking.”
He noted that quarry collection in January this year was posted at P31,420,000, higher than the P31,360,000 collected in the same period last year.
In 2017, quarry revenues were recorded at P375 million which boosted total quarry income from July 2010 to December last year to P2,354,345,000 excluding derivatives like weighing scale fees, accreditation of motor vehicles fees, and fees from gravel sand permits. (JTD with Erika Mariel Gines)