Dinagat mining firm joins fight vs. sargassum debris


Seen as a blight on shorelines and considered a nuisance by fishermen, the sargassum seaweed is now being used to fertilize the mined-out lands of nickel miner Cagdianao Mining Corporation (CMC) here.


Locally known as “samo”, these dense floating clusters of brown seaweeds would tangle on nets and boat propellers of local fishermen.


Piles of sargassum would also cover beaches, making regular cleanup necessary to prevent them from overwhelming coastal ecosystems, according to CMC.


In several coastal regions that depend largely on tourism and marine resources, such as the Caribbean and the coastal parts of America, the recurring seaweed influxes caused by sargassum are considered a national emergency.


To help the community “sustainably control” sargassum inundation, CMC’s Mine and Environment Protection and Enhancement Office began experimenting in 2018 on the viability of using sargassum extracts as fertilizers to be used in the mining company’s mined out areas.


The experiment led to the development of CMC’s Sargassum Liquid Fertilizer (SLF) using the sargassum gathered from the shorelines around the mine site.


Less than two years since the start of the experiment, CMC said the SLF is now being used as organic fertilizer for most of the planting materials or seedlings being groomed at the CMC nurseries, to be planted at the mining company’s mined out areas.


“The challenge of the sargassum in Dinagat Islands has not yet reached crisis level like in other countries but CMC is already designing ways to help the communities address their own challenges with the sargassum,” engineer Arnilo C. Milaor, CMC resident mine manager, said Friday.


Recognizing the ecological importance of sargassum as essential fish habitat and its global role in the ocean sequestration of carbon, Milaor clarified that the company only harvests “strandings” or those that have already washed ashore.


This, he said, helps coastal villages control the unsightly influxes while reducing the adverse impact of sargassum inundations on mangroves and seagrass beds.


According to CMC agriculturist Jessie Dumanig, the SLF has been proven to be “very successful” in growing crops in the mining company’s rehabilitated area.


“The recorded harvest in 2019 was almost 500 kilograms of fruits and vegetables, such as pepper, bitter gourd, eggplant, tomato, corn, mash melon, and cabbage, from our demonstration farms using the SLF, and in 2020 to date, we have a record of some 500 kilograms of fruits and vegetables from the agroforestry demo gardens in the mine site, exclusively using our organic SLF,” Dumanig said.


Dumanig said CMC’s laboratory findings prove that SLF is rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, nutrients that are essential for plants to achieve maximum growth potential.


“We are very excited. Future plans include the introduction of the SLF to local farmers. We will introduce to the Dinagatnon this organic fertilizer, which is a product of research and technology at CMC,” he said. “As a responsible mining company, we wish to be one with environmentalists and scientists in other countries, doing our part by helping the communities in Dinagat Islands understand and address this global environmental concern.”


CMC, an affiliate of Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC), the country’s biggest nickel supplier, mines saprolite and limonite ore on a 697-hectare mineral reservation area in Barangay Valencia here.


Source: Philippines News Agency