Department of Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima confirmed that two successive operations were undertaken last August 1 and 3 in Cagayan and Ilocos Sur, respectively, against illegal black sand mining through the joint efforts of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), under the umbrella of the Joint DOJ-DILG-DENR Fact-Finding Committee/Task Force on Illegal Mining created under the Joint Department Order No. 002-2012 dated 10 October 2012.
Last August 1, 2013, the NBI operatives and their MGB counterparts, acting on a lead given to them, proceeded to the mineral processing plants of HUA XIA MINING AND TRADING CORPORATION in Paddaya and Dodan, Aparri, Cagayan, wherein a total of eighteen (18) Chinese nationals were found illegally operating a mineral processing plant for MAGNETITE or BLACKSAND.
The MGB underscored that Hua Xia Mining and Trading Corp. was a permit holder to extract sand only in Casiitan and Batangan, Gonzaga, Cagayan but not in Paddaya and Dodan in Aparri, Cagayan. Its sister corporation, the Hua Xia Resources Corporation, had a special permit to dredge and rehabilitate a river where magnetite sand unearthed from the river bed is given to them as a compensation.
In Paddaya, it was discovered that nine (9) Chinese nationals were engaged in the burrow and processing of MAGNETITE SAND within the prohibited zone of 200 meters from the mean low tide level along the beach, and without a permit from the MGB. The MGB ordered the operators to cease operation and confiscated three (3) units Generator sets, three (3) units three-phase induction motor used in their operation and 1,500 metric tons more or less of magnetite concentrate already processed from said plant.
A few distance from Paddaya, in Dodan, Aparri, the team found another processing plant being illegally constructed by the HUA XIA MINING and TRADING CORPORATION without the necessary permit from MGB-Region 2. Another set of nine (9) Chinese nationals were found to be in the process of constructing the plant. A Generator set was also confiscated in the NBI operation. These nine (9) Chinese nationals from
Dodan, along with the other nine (9) from Paddaya, Aparri, were turned-over to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) who reported that five of the Chinese did not have passports. Verification from the Department of Labor and Employment-R02 disclosed that they were not holders of working permits. Criminal charges are being prepared against these individuals.
Ilocos Sur Operations
On August 3, 2013, another team led by the NBI was also dispatched by Sec. De Lima to address complaints by the community against illegal black sand mining activities in IIocos Sur.
The team was composed of officers from the MGB, BI, National Prosecution Service (NPS), Philippine National Police (PNP), Naval Intelligence and Security Forces (NISF). The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and some religious personalities were also invited as observers.
The team proceeded to the designated target area along the shoreline of Bgy. Nagtupacan, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, where stockpiles of black sand concentrates were found. Extraction pumps, dredging equipment and facilities were also seen in the area. However, the mine site appeared to have been abandoned with no personnel manning the site. Two (2) marine vessels were also sighted about 100kms away from the shoreline presumably being used to transport the black sand out of the country.
In a compound located approximately 500 meters away from the mine extraction site, sixteen (16) Chinese nationals were found, thirteen (13) of whom presented valid working permits while the remaining three (3) only had temporary visas. It appeared that the 13 Chinese nationals are personnel of HONGZE MINING CORPORATION.
Based on initial findings, said Hongze Mining Corporation was a holder also of a special permit to dredge a river system in the area. However, it has no existing and valid permits to extract and process black sand. As of this writing, the NBI-led operation is in the process of dismantling conveyors and structures built along the beach in San Vicente, Ilocos Sur. An initial assessment from the MGB and NPS reveals that mining laws and regulations were violated by said individuals and appropriate criminal charges will be filed.
Sec. De Lima expressed dismay in the proliferation of illegal black sand mining, particularly in the "no-go zones" or the prohibited zone of 200 meters from the mean low tide level along the beach. She said that "we simply cannot tolerate these illegal and immoral abuse and exploitation of our natural resources." She warned how these illegal operatives appear to use innocuous and legal processes, such as the acquisition of permits to dredge rivers, to cover-up "these nefarious and illicit activities" and promised that the DOJ/NBI will continue to lead the campaign against black sand mining. She confirmed that they are in the process of mapping out the schedule of operations against black sand mining all over the country.
Sec. De Lima is asking for the continuing cooperation of the community to report all illegal mining activities to DOJ/NBI and/or the DOJ-DILG-DENR Joint Task Force. She added that "we owe it to future generations to act on this now, not later, not tomorrow but NOW."