Black sand mining in Leyte town to start despite opposition
TACLOBAN CITY –– Despite opposition from environmentalists, a mining firm in MacArthur town in Leyte will start extracting black sand which will be exported to China in January 2021.
Januar Ong, community relations officer of the MacArthur Iron Project Corp. (MIPC), said at least 99,000 metric tons of black sand would be extracted from its “pilot area,” which consists of seven hectares of land in Barangay Maya, MacArthur.
“We just completed our trial run last Dec. 14 and we are now in a transition towards commercial operation. Hopefully by January next year, we will start our commercial operation,” he said.
Ong said a metric ton of black sand or iron sand, which is used as a component in steel-making and alloys costs $60 or P2,889.
The company, he said, has leased the 14 hectares property owned by Maya village chairman Pepito Guimalan for three years at P270,000 per hectare a year.
Ong said the company had secured all the necessary permits from concerned government agencies, including the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as early as 2007.
He said people don’t have to fear since a creek located near the mining site had been dredged by the company to ensure that the water wouldn’t overflow.
They also planted bamboo along the creek to prevent possible soil erosion and flooding.
Environmentalists, including the parish priest of MacArthur, however, opposed the mining operations.
Fr. Amadeo Alvero, in an open letter, appealed to MIPC to stop its black sand operation, which, he said, could lead to the destruction of the environment and severe flooding.
“In view of what happened to the tremendous and great flooding in Cagayan, Manila, Marikina, and many other places, I am pleading with bended knees to stop the black sand mining here in MacArthur, Leyte. This appeal I made on behalf of those who love and want to protect our environment,” the priest said in a post on Facebook.
“And so I am humbly appealing to the deepest of their hearts to help us stop this black sand mining here in MacArthur, Leyte for the sake of those who have died and those who are still suffering because of the great flooding in Cagayan and many other places, and for the sake of those who will suffer and die in the future if we do not protect our environment,” he added.
Alvero’s letter was addressed not only to the MIPC, but also to local officials of MacArthur headed by Mayor Rudin Babante, Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, as well as the regional offices of the DENR.
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