AT least two Chinese and 10 locals were arrested for alleged illegal black sand mining in Gonzaga town in Cagayan, police said on Wednesday.
Senior Insp. Rolando Torres, Gonzaga’s deputy police chief, identified the two foreign nationals as Cheng Yan Din of Fujian, China; and Edward Lee, a Chinese-Filipino residing in Batangas.
Torres said the two suspects, along with ten Filipino workers, are now facing charges for violation of the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7942) for illegal extraction and processing of black sand.
Police said Cheng was the operations manager of Sigma Rock Corp., a Chinese firm allegedly engaged in the illegal extraction and processing of magnetite.
The suspects, according to the police, are now facing charges before the local prosecutor’s office; their mining equipment were confiscated by the regional police office in Tuguegarao City.
The police revealed that the suspects were processing their minerals when joint police operatives raided their pro–cessing plant along the coast of Barangay Baua in Gonzaga town on Monday at about 3:30 a.m.
Records at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Tuguegarao City show that Cheng’s firm lacked the necessary permit or clearance to conduct black sand mining in the area.
MGB director for Region 2 Mario Ancheta said all black sand mining activities in the region, including along the coastlines of Cagayan have either been stopped or suspended indefinitely earlier this year.
“We have also made long ago a recommendation for the suspension of all local government-sanctioned extraction of the precious minerals in the region,” Ancheta said.
Used as an additive in the manufacturing of concrete and steel products, magnets, paint, ink, paper, jewelry and cosmetics, black sand or magnetite is a very lucrative commodity in foreign markets such as in China and Taiwan.
Black sand is also an important component in power plants.
Meanwhile, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) passed a resolution to President Aquino for the suspension of all black sand mining in the country.
Co-chaired by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje and Finance Secretary Cezar Purisima under the Office of the President, the MICC cited black sand mining’s adverse effects on the lives of coastal communities and marine resources.