Dredging of the Cagayan River Delta is under way, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Australian diversified resources company Astra and the businessmen developing a world-scale iron sands project in the Philippines’ north east.

The MOU will establish a joint venture for Astra and Cagayan River Construction and Development (CRCDC) to begin exporting iron sands.

Astra chief executive officer Dr Jaydeep Biswas says “Geological studies and extensive sampling further suggest that at dredging depths of 14 metres well above 9 billion tonnes of iron sands are available in the delta and adjacent areas with average iron contents of 46%.”

He says the area is an established producing region exporting to nearby steel manufacturers in China, Korea and Taiwan.

The Joint Venture is subject to final due diligence, including legal, independent geological reports, Astra Resources board approval and finance for the project’s development and operation.

Astra’s managing director Silvana De Cianni says the finance requirement to bring the project to fruition is low given its scale. “The opportunity fits with our business model which focuses on the steel value chain, low infrastructure and logistics investment, low extraction costs, proximity to markets, licenses to operate being imminent and pathways to revenues being defined,” she says.

“This would be a fast-track entry into mining in the Philippines with future opportunities to develop assets in manganese, gold and copper.”