Gordon probes Zambales mining, soil smuggling

THE Senate blue ribbon committee conducted Wednesday its maiden hearing on the mining operations in Zambales and the alleged smuggling of Philippine soil used by China to build its man-made islands in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Senator Richard Gordon who heads the committee expressed suspicion over the amount of soil being delivered by mining companies to China in view of the fact that nickel ore is currently at low trajectory.

"That much land that came out, that much earth that came out. Could it be that they know something that we do not? Or at least some of us do not? Or some of us know but most of us do not," Gordon said.

Low-grade nickel ore is sold starting from $10 per ton, while high-grade nickel ore is sold at $22 per ton.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials also disclosed that before the West Philippine Sea dispute came about, China tried to enter into an agreement with the Philippines for the exploration of REE (rare earth elements).

Gordon sought more comprehensive data on all mining operations that go to China that involving extraction that are not processed.

"It's the destruction of the environment...I would like to know how many operations like these are happening – mining operations or buying of sands or whatever that is going to China. It is important for us to safeguard our national interest," Gordon said. (Sunnex)
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