Ilocos Sur also made headlines after national authorities trained their attention on rampant illegal black sand mining in two towns.

Criminal charges were filed against 31 Chinese nationals caught by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) engaged in illegal black sand mining.


Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the Chinese nationals were arrested in separate raids in the provinces of Cagayan and Ilocos Sur on August 1 and 3last year. They face charges for violating the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.


During the August 1 raid, authorities arrested a total of 18 Chinese nationals working for Hua Xia Mining and Trading Corp in the barangays of Doddan and Paddaya in Aparri, Cagayan.


Half of the arrested individuals were caught illegally operating a mineral processing plant for magnetite, the most magnetic of all the naturally occurring Earth minerals, and which is commonly found in large quantities of black sand.


The other half were said to be engaged in burrowing for the same mineral within a prohibited zone and without an MGB permit.


In the August 3 raid, 13 Chinese nationals working for Hongze Mining Corp were likewise arrested in two separate sites in Ilocos Sur: in Barangay Caparacadan in Caoayan town, and Barangay Nagtupacan in San Vicente town.


De Lima said that aside from the arrests, 120,000 metric tons of black sand, which can fill up 6,000 dump trucks, was also seized.


De Lima stressed that black sand mining was illegal in “no-go zones” – a 200-meter strip of shore area that is closed to mining activities.


MGB geohazard mapping had shown that coastal areas were vulnerable to wind and water erosion which makes sand mining in those areas a prohibited activity.


The World Wildlife Fund Philippines said that black sand mining will have harmful effects on the marine biodiversity in the Babuyan Channel, particularly to humpback whales. (MCA/MNOA PIA1-Ilocos Sur)


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