Manila— Local residents staged a rally against an alleged illegal blacksand mining operation in the town of Gonzaga, Cagayan Province last March 19, 2011.
About two thousand people from the barangays (villages) of Batangan, Calayan, and Minanga in Gonzaga town, staged a rally yesterday in front of the mining construction in Batangan, Gonzaga. They expressed shocked upon the entry of Huaxia in their area. Beijing-based Huaxia was issued two 20-hectare mining permit for magnetite sand covering residential and coastal areas, within the 200-meter shoreline. Gonzaga is a first class municipality located 125 kilometers from Tuguegarao City. It has a population of approximately 35, 400 people.
“Construction work of Huaxia is already starting and the people fear of its impacts to the communities, primarily because the permit covers their homes—and permits were given without public consultation,” a source from the community said, declining to be named for fear of harassments by proponents of the mining project.
Green groups in Manila led by Alyansa Tigil Mina supported the call of the locals in Gonzaga townto cancel the black sand mining permit issued to a certain Huaxia Mining and Trading Corporation last December 12, 2010.
“Clearly, the leadership of Cagayan Valley province do not listen to the peoples call—the people do not want any kind of mining there. Especially now that impacts of climate change are increasing, the government should be more careful about the projects that they are pursuing,” said Alyansa Tigil Mina National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera.
Initial research shows that magnetite mining causes agricultural and environmental problems. The report also cite that black sand mining in coastal areas have resulted in coastal erosion, inundation of communities, and degradation of marine ecosystem. In 2009, ATM sent a team to look into the reported beach erosion in Cagayan province, reportedly due to the illegal black sand mining operations in the area.
Cagayan communities have been opposing these mining operations there, particularly magnetite sand mining that causes great risks for them, especially those living in coastal areas.
“The permit should definitely be canceled, first because there was no public consultation conducted and second but not of less importance is that this activity will put the communities and even the whole island at great environmental risks.” concluded Garganera.
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.