The Department of Justice will file an illegal mining complaint against 34 Chinese nationals found to have mined black sand or magnetite without proper permits in Cagayan and Ilocos Sur, two sites of which yielded 60,000 metric tons of black sand alone, or equivalent to 6,000 dump trucks of the mineral.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday that the complaint against the Chinese nationals came after joint raids conducted on Aug. 1 and 3 by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) belonging to the joint Department of Justice-Department of the Interior and Local Government-Department of Environment and Natural Resources fact-finding committee or task force on illegal mining.
In the Cagayan operations conducted on Aug. 1, the operatives found 18 Chinese nationals employed by the Hua Xia Mining and Trading Corp. operating illegally a mineral processing plant for black sand in Paddaya and Dodan, Aparri, in Cagayan.
The company only had a permit to extract sand in Casiitan and Batangan in Gonzaga but not in Paddaya and Dodan. The firm’s sister company, Hua Xia Resources Corp., on the other hand, had a special permit to dredge and rehabilitate a river “where magnetite sand unearthed from the river bed is given to them as compensation.”
In Paddaya, nine Chinese nationals were found to be engaged in the burrow and processing of black sand within the prohibited zone of 200 meters from the mean low tide level along the beach and did not have a permit from the MGB.
Aside from ordering a stop to the operations, the MGB confiscated three generator units, three three-phase induction motor units used in the operations and 1,500 metric tons of more or less processed magnetite concentrate.
The same company also built illegally another processing plant in Dodan without a permit and nine Chinese nationals were found to be doing the construction there.
The DOJ said the 18 Chinese nationals were turned over to the Bureau of Immigration. Five of them were found to have no passports. The group also did not have work permits. The DOJ will file criminal charges against them.
In the Aug. 3 operation in Ilocos Sur, authorities found stockpiles of black concentrates in the target area along the shoreline of Barangay Nagtupacan, San Vicente town, as well as extraction pumps, dredging equipment and facilities.
But the mine site appeared to have been abandoned because there were no personnel in the site, but authorities sighted two marine vessels about 100 kilometers away from the shoreline “presumably being used to transport the black sand out of the country.”
De Lima, in a text message to reporters, said there was about 60,000 metric tons of black sand each in the raided sites in Caparacadan in Caoyan and Nagtupacan in San Vicente.
“[This can] fill around 6,000 dump trucks because a dump truck can load 20 metric tons each,” she said.
Authorities found 16 Chinese nationals in a compound some 500 meters away from the mine extraction site. Thirteen of the nationals, believed to be employed by Hongze Mining Corp., had work permits while three had temporary visas.
This company has a special permit to dredge a river system in the area but did not have existing and valid permits to extract and process black sand.
Criminal charges will be filed against the Chinese nationals for violating mining laws and regulations.
In a statement, De Lima said she was dismayed over the proliferation of illegal black sand mining, especially in the “no-go zones.”
She said that illegal operatives were using “innocuous and legal processes, such as the acquisition of permits to dredge rivers to cover up these nefarious and illegal activities.”
Vowing there would be no letup in the campaign against illegal black sand mining, De Lima said the government was in the process of mapping out the schedule of operations against black sand mining all over the country.