Astra Resources has announced plans to begin dredging at its iron sands project located in Cagayan, the Philippines, later this year.

Astra’s subsidiary, Astra Philippines, holds a 90% stake in Cagayan River Construction and Development Corporation (CRCDC), which will deliver the project.

Astra CEO Jaydeep Biswas said the commencement of the project was pursuant to a memorandum of agreement between the CRCDC and the Provincial Government of Cagayan, which was approved last week.

"This grants CRDCD the authority to dredge, extract and utilise ‘quarry resources’, sand particles and other materials of commercial value such as magnetite iron sands from the Cagayan River Delta," said Biswas.

The Babuyan Channel Iron Sand Lode, in the north eastern part of Luzon in the Philippines, is estimated to contain more than 31.3 billion metric tonnes in the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) areas.

Astra managing director Silvana De Cianni said the company is acquiring additional mining areas alongside MPSA 1, 2, 3 and 4 to add to the joint venture.

The company will dredge a 200m by 12km strip along the mouth of the Cagayan River for a period of 25 years.

Production is expected to reach gross sales of around 1 million tonnes per annum by 2014, and the initial estimated resource is 135 million tonnes.

Astra, through its joint venture interest in CRCDC, has secured all permits to initiate operations this year.