GONZAGA, Cagayan: Local officials in this mineral-rich coastal town have belied reports that they are abetting illegal black sand mining or extraction.
Led by Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr., local officials said that all the existing mining operations or any extraction activities in their magnetite-rich coastal town have pertinent and legal papers and transport permits.
“We are not abetting illegal mining in our town. We will not allow the extraction of our minerals through illegal means. The remaining black sand mining operations in our locality are covered with proper documents,” Pentecostes said.
He said that the documents issued to the mining firms here to extract and transport black sand were “issued by competent authorities” such as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the provincial government.
“Contrary to reports, we also do not allow these black sand mining firms to establish their operations within the 200-meter prohibited area which is also strictly being monitored by the MGB [Mines Geosciences Bureau],” Pentecostes said.
He also said that as soon as there is a finding of illegal operations within the prohibited zone, “we will immediately oppose and cause the immediate closure of any erring black sand mining firm.”
Pentecostes, however, admits that his municipality has “flourished economically from a sleepy town” due to black sand mining which he said is being “responsibly undertaken” in accordance with law and MGB regulations.
“Gonzaga has now become a first-class municipality and one of the fastest in economic growth among Cagayan Valley’s towns having generated some P300 million from its black sand mining in the last three years,” he said.
The local chief executive said that the amount generated from the mining industry represents the collected revenue from the mining industry operated in some of the town’s villages since July 2010.
“The people of Gonzaga are proud to say that the mushrooming development of our town, including the two-story municipal government building and the concreting of roads leading to interior villages in the last three years is due to black sand mining,” Pentecostes said.
He added that this town’s natural resources are “utilized wisely” for the benefit of all constituent and “we don’t abuse our natural resources.”
“I am for black sand mining if it’s done properly and responsibly, without sacrificing the lives of our constituents,” he said.
Meanwhile, Director Mario Ancheta of the MGB for Cagayan Valley has also confirmed that the remaining black sand mining firms which continue to operate are “legal” and which the MGB continue to monitor.