Black sand mining stops in CagayanPhilippine Daily Inquirer
BUGUEY, Cagayan—Magnetite mining operations in this town and in nearby coastal areas have stopped after agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raided a mining site in nearby Aparri town and arrested 14 of its Chinese workers last week, an official of an environmental group said.
Art Alariao, president of the Federation of Environmental Advocates of Cagayan (Feac), said heavy equipment belonging to two Chinese firms had stopped digging along beaches here while trucks had suspended delivery of processed magnetite or black sand to Port Irene in Santa Ana town.
Feac is an alliance of people’s organizations opposing black sand extraction and mining activities in the province’s northern coastal towns.
“We have received information that the Chinese were alarmed by the NBI raid, so they are probably playing it safe for now,” Alariao said.
Before the raid was conducted on Oct. 22, he said, black sand extraction was continuing despite stoppage orders issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the provincial government.
Two Chinese firms, San You Philippines Mining Trade Ltd. and Lutra Inc., operate in at least 10 coastal villages here.
“We were given assurance that the NBI will stay here for as long as it takes in order to stop these illegal mining operations. We have been used to the strategy of these mining companies: they resume operations the moment law enforcers leave,” Alariao said.
Residents in Aparri and Gonzaga towns also noticed the absence of mining activities since the arrest of the Chinese workers.
Trucks loaded with magnetite have not been seen plying the Dugo-San Vicente highway, the main road to Port Irene which traverses the towns of Camalaniugan, Buguey, Santa Teresita, Gonzaga and Santa Ana. Before, the residents said, as many as 40 trucks would pass the area daily.
“The transport has stopped but the processing of black sand continued. From a distance, we can see their machines working—separating the magnetite from the sand and disposing of their wastes in ponds,” said Rochelle Garma, president of Gonzaga Alliance of Environmental Preservation and Protection.
Hector Eduard Geologo, NBI regional director for Cagayan Valley, could not say if there are upcoming operations against black sand mining operators in Aparri and nearby areas. “[The NBI] central office is still evaluating the results of the previous operation,” he said.
He was referring to the arrest of the 14 Chinese in Barangay Dodan in Aparri. The workers, who included five engineers and a geologist, were found to have entered the country illegally and were said to be lacking work permits.
They were charged before the Department of Justice in Tuguegarao City on Wednesday with violation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. They were released on Thursday after posting bail of P2,500 each.
Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. said he had asked the Chinese companies to check the presence of illegal workers in their roster. “They assured me that their workers have been issued all the necessary papers,” he said. Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon