The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has allayed fears over reports on resumption of illegal black-sand mining in Ilocos Sur province.
MGB Director Leo Jasareno immediately sent inspectors Pantay Tamurong barangay (village), Cao-ayan municipality, where black sand was reportedly being mined, after video footage had been brought to the attention of the Joint Fact-Finding Committee (JFFC) on Illegal Mining.
Technical personnel of the bureau’s Regional Office 1, led by its Officer-in-Charge Carlos Tayag, went to Pantay Tamurong and found that what was taking place was rehabilitation/reclamation and maintenance works undertaken by Isla Verde Mining involving a riverbank that had been eroded by Typhoon Mario.
Joint efforts of the National Bureau of Investigation and the MGB, upon the initiative of the JFFC on Illegal Mining, helped eradicate rampant black-sand-mining in Caoayan.
JFFC is headed by the Department of Justice, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Interior and Local Government as members.
In November 2014, the MGB imposed a moratorium on approval of black-sand export permits, or the mineral ore export permits (MOEP) for magnetite operations while it was reviewing existing magnetite operations.
The suspension stemmed from an order from the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) that required review of black-sandmining to curb proliferation of illegal mining activities.
Black sand, or magnetite, is a component of steel production.
Many black-sand miners in the Philippines export to smelters in China. The Philippines exports around one million tons of magnetite to various buyers annually.
The MGB has been coordinating with the NBI on stopping illicit operations of black-sand miners not only in Ilocos Sur but also Ilocos Norte and Cagayan provinces.