MGB stops black sand mining operations in Cagayan
Raymund Catindig, Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2014 - 12:00am

APARRI, Cagayan , Philippines   â€“ Mining firms extracting black sand in this province’s coastlines have either been stopped or suspended indefinitely pending a review of their applications and operations, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

Engineer Mario Ancheta, MGB director for Cagayan Valley, said the operations of most companies extracting black sand along the northern coastlines here had been stopped since last year.

The last suspension of black sand extraction, according to the MGB, was made last month, even before National Bureau of Investigation agents conducted operations against these activities in the province.

“The mining permits of these firms were either revoked or suspended due to several violations like operating within the 200-meter prohibited zone,” Ancheta said.

The MGB’s stoppage orders also came in the wake of last month’s recommendation by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) for the suspension of black sand mining operations in the country, pending evaluation of their operations.

The MICC, co-chaired by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, is under the Office of the President.

Among the companies whose permits were cancelled or suspended were Lutra Inc., Yin Ye Mining Co., Lian Xing Mining, and Hua Xia Mining and Trading Corp. 

“Lutra abandoned its operations, along with some of its equipment and facilities here three years ago,” said a resident of this town, one of the black sand-rich areas in Cagayan.

Other towns where black sand was extracted were Buguey and Gonzaga.

Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. of Gonzaga said the MGB stopped black sand mining in his town as early as last year.   

“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,” he said.

The MGB, however, said the Hao Ren International Mining Group Inc. was the only remaining accredited firm extracting black sand here, as part of its P50-million seawall project. 

Julius Catral, Aparri municipal administrator, said the project is part of last year’s memorandum of agreement between the town and Hao Ren, which would fund the construction of the seawall and ecological park in Dodan village. 

“The seawall project aims to protect Barangay Dodan from floods or storm surge during high tide and typhoons,” he said. 

Under the agreement, Catral said the black sand extracted during the construction of the seawall would be under the disposal of Hao Ren “but subject to mining laws as to its processing and utilization.”  

Black sand or magnetite is used as an additive in the manufacturing of concrete and steel products, magnets, paint, ink, paper, jewelry and cosmetics, making it a lucrative commodity in China, Taiwan and other foreign markets.

BARANGAY DODAN BLACK BUGUEY AND GONZAGA CAGAYAN VALLEY ENGINEER MARIO ANCHETA ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES SECRETARY RAMON PAJE AND FINANCE SECRETARY CESAR PURISIMA HAO REN MINING SAND
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