BLACK SAND MINING. The MacArthur Iron Sand Project Corp. inaugurates its dredger and magnetic separator plant in MacArthur, Leyte in this photo taken on Sept. 28, 2020. The firm on Friday (Nov. 20, 2020) assured residents of MacArthur town that they would be responsible in their business operations. (Photo courtesy of Mines and Geosciences Bureau)

TACLOBAN CITY – A mining firm has assured residents of MacArthur, Leyte that they would be responsible in their business operations after a parish priest and netizens raised concerns over the impact of destructive mining on the environment.

In a statement issued Friday, the management of MacArthur Iron Sand Project Corp. (MIPC) denied claims they were operating and shipping black sand without valid permits.

“The project has secured all necessary permits, licenses, and approvals necessary to bring the business operation to its current stage. There is no commercial production yet. Equipment necessary for production has recently been assembled and are undergoing commissioning and debugging, which makes shipment impossible as wrongfully implied on social media,” the management said.

MacArthur town parish priest Amadeo Alvero issued an appeal through his social media account on Thursday to stop the mining operation, citing its negative impact on the environment.

The post, with photos of ongoing dredging, has been shared on Facebook and sparked negative comments from netizens.

“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,” Alvero said.

The mining firm responded by saying that they have complied with all requirements and are committed to implementing full rehabilitation of leased areas after extracting black sand.

“We would like to reassure the public and all stakeholders in Leyte that we have performed our business operations within the bounds of the law, including all its pertinent policies and regulations, and we will continue doing so during the course of our business operations,” the management added.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) reported that the MIPC is one of the priority mining projects tapped by the government to help the economy that has been adversely affected by the health crisis.

The firm is reportedly investing PHP500 million and has already hired nearly 300 workers in MacArthur this year.

Last September 28, it inaugurated its dredger and magnetic separator plant and started its debugging in Maya village in the town.

“The mining industry cares for the environment and that it always delivers, especially in its commitment to help. The MGB will likewise ensure that responsible mining will be pursued by the company in its operations,” MGB regional director Leo Van Juguan said in a statement posted on the agency’s website.

The MIPC’s processing plant has 4,000 tons of iron sand for debugging and is expected to process 8 percent to 10 percent of its feed.

It physically separates magnetite concentrate from raw sand via magnetic separators and sieve screens, according to MGB. (PNA)