APARRI, Cagayan: The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) have put a stop to all illegal black sand mining operations in this province’s coastline, some of which have been suspended indefinitely pending review of several mining firms’ applications and operations.
MGB officials said that since last year, they have stopped companies engaged in black sand mining along this town’s coastal villages whose operations were found to have encroached into the 200-meter prohibited mining zone.
Engineer Mario Ancheta, MGB director for Cagayan Valley, said that some of the companies which were ordered stopped were those which are found to have encroached into the cited prohibited zone “as a result of the natural coastal erosion.”
Ancheta, however, said that Hao Ren International Mining Group, Inc. (Hao Ren) is now the “only remaining” accredited firm engaged in the extraction of black sand here due to their “social commitment” to their area of operation.
“Hao Ren’s operation is in connection with its commitment to build a P50-million seawall project as part of its corporate social responsibility to protect agricultural lands and residential areas being flooded by the high tide and intermittent storm surges,” the MGB director said.
Julius Catral, Aparri municipal administrator, said that the seawall project is part of last year’s memorandum of agreement (MOA) entered into between the local government of Aparri and Hao Ren for the establishment of a three-kilometer seawall and ecological park in Dodan village here.
Catral said the seawall project aims to protect the coastal village of Dodan and adjoining low-lying villages from floods, storm surges and high tide.
“Under the MOA, the black sand extracted during the construction of the seawall would be under the disposal of the contracted firm but subject to mining laws as to their processing and utilization,” the municipal administrator said.
Even before operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation conducted operations to stop illegal black sand mining, MGB officials said they have already ordered the stoppage and suspension of firms found to have violated mining laws and regulations.
Ancheta also belied reports of continued illegal operations of black sand mining firms in the mineral-rich coastal towns of Aparri, Buguey and Gonzaga.
Ancheta said the companies whose permits were canceled or suspended were Lutra Inc., Yin Ye Mining Co., Lian Xing Mining and Hua Xia Mining and Trading Corp.
“The mining permits of these firms were either revoked or suspended, the latest of which were in January, due to several violations like conducting their operation within the 200-meter prohibited zone,” he said.
Ancheta said Lutra has already abandoned its area or operations in Aparri including some of its equipment and facilities here three years ago.
In Gonzaga town, the operations of black sand mining firms were already stopped or suspended by the MGB as early as last year.
The engineer stressed, “Even when they move outside the prohibited zone of mining operations they will not be allowed to operate nor will we lift their suspension.”
“At present, there are no more extractions of black sand in our town. We will not allow any company to operate or resume operation unless they have permission from the MGB and other concerned authorities,” Mayor Carlito Pentecostes of Gonzaga town said.
Earlier, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council has recommended the suspension of all black sand mining operations in the country, pending evaluation of the operations of various mining firms.
The MICC, a panel under the Office of the President, is co-chaired by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
Used as an additive in the manufacture of concrete and steel products, magnets, paint, ink, paper, jewelry and cosmetics, black sand or magnetite is considered a very lucrative commodity in foreign markets such as in China and Taiwan.