Vessel loaded with 55,00 MT of nickel ore
GUIUAN, Eastern Samar– The refloating of a Chinese vessel carrying 55,000 metric tons of nickel ore that ran aground off Sulangan Island, this town, last April 19 would take some weeks to be completed.
This was disclosed by town Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan who said the refloating of the M/V Jhe Zai 168 is facing difficulties due to the strong current where it ran aground.
“The area where the M/V Jhe Zai 168 ran aground is where the mouth of the Pacific Ocean is. That is why, the divers are finding difficulties to refloat the vessel because of the strong current,” Gonzales-Kwan said on Tuesday (May 2).
She added that based on the information she received from the salvaging company, SMIT Salvage Singapore which has contracted its local partner Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp. based in Manila, the refloating of M/V Jhe Zai 168 might be completed on May 23.
The company also needs master divers for them to undertake the refloating of M/V Jhe Zai 168, manned by 21 Chinese crew, which ran around on April 19 after it experienced strong currents.
M/V Jhe Zai 169 where the 55,000 metric tons of nickel ore are to be loaded, arrived on Monday morning, the town mayor said.
The said vessel will then transport the minerals to China which has an estimated commercial value of more than P300 million, Gonzales-Kwan added.
Meantime, Gonzales-Kwan said that she demanded the salvor company to secure permits not only from the local government but from the Mines and Sciences Bureau, Bureau of Customs, and even from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation as they are to undertake the salvaging operation.
She reasoned out that they are practically ‘doing business’ in Guiuan reason that the salvor company need to secure mayor and business permits, and from the mentioned government agencies saying another vessel manned with a different crew are present.
On top of this, Mayor Gonzales-Kwan is not discounting the possibility of filing damage claims for the possible destruction of coral reefs and sea grass due to the incident that took place last April 19.
“We will only learn the extent of the damage to our coral reefs and sea grass once the M/V Jhe Zai 168 is completely refloated. Surely, there is damage in our coral reefs and sea grass,” she said.
She, however, could not say just yet as to how much they will be claiming for damage as the amount will depend on the square meter damaged area.
A similar incident also occurred in August, 2021 where a Chinese vessel, M/V Ambition Journey, also ran aground in Sulangan Island and loaded with 49,000 nickel ore on its way to China due to engine trouble.
The local government unit was able to collect P11 million from the Emir Mineral Resource Corp. for the damage the vessel incurred to the coral reefs and seagrass.
The amount went to the local government at P5 million. P1 million to Sulangan village; and the remaining P5 million to the Protective Management Office.
(JOEY A. GABIETA)