The Offshore Mining Chamber of the Philippines (OMCP) has signified its support for a proposal to ban sand mining in some coastal towns in the Ilocos region to prevent shoreline erosion.

In a statement, OMCP said since it is relatively a new mining concept, only those with the expertise and proper technology should be allowed to undertake mining operations in offshore areas, not in shorelines.

OMCP endorsed the guidelines issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last May 16, 2016 that prohibits mining within 500 meters from the shorelines to offshore, as well as mining 200 meters from the shoreline to inland areas of any coastal town.

It also said proper and adequately evaluated Environmental Compliance Certificates must be secured first from the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau and dredgers and mining vessel must obtain Environmental Impact Assessment from country of design and/or manufacture.

The guidelines state that entities involved in offshore mining or dredging must have an ISO Certificate for their offshore mining or dredging standards of operation for environmental protection and ecological balance.

Offshore mining firms must be adequately capitalized as environmentally safe and ecologically balanced offshore mining vessels are capital intensive, complete with experienced technical people.

Likewise, OMCP said an entity must have obtained an approval for the Feasibility of Mining Declaration and Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program from the DENR's Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

It must also have an approved public consultation and acceptance of the local community and resolution from the local government units signifying no objection to the offshore mining or dredging activity.

Before any export shipment can be done, there must be a mineral ore export permit (MOEP) no less duly passed upon by the Bureau of Internal Revenue for the proper payment 4 percent of excise taxes and proper payment of mineral reservation fees to DENR-MGB of 5 percent.

The mining group cited the Build Back Better Program, an initiative by the provincial government of Cagayan under a quadripartite agreement involving the DENR, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Interior and Local Government, which prevented illegal black sand mining in favor of environmentally correct dredging of silts and iron sand in the coastal towns.

"To make it more effective, the technical committee of the Build Back Better Program of Cagayan has tapped the expertise, resources and know-how of several large scale mining firms in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) to assist in its efforts to desilt, dredge, siphon and widen the mouth of Aparri River where flood water constrictions perennially and seasonally cause floods in Cagayan," it said.

OMCP said to date, JDVC Resources Corp. has been approved and fully permitted to do offshore large-scale mining operations to mine magnetite iron deposits off Cagayan.

JDVC has already deployed its first deep sea mining vessel, the MB Siphon 1, which has commenced its site developmental stage, preliminary sea bed trenching, and bulk sampling preparatory to commercial export shipment.

OMCP issued their statement after Probinsyano Ako party-list Rep. Jose "Bonito" Singson Jr. proposed a ban on coastal mining.

During a congressional hearing, Singson mentioned the practice of some mining firms, especially those owned by the Chinese, to extract sand from shorelines in Ilocos region in search of magnetite iron.