The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct next week a confiscation proceeding on the 50,000 metric tons of magnetite sand earlier seized by a joint team of the DENR and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in a mining area in Paracale, Camarines Norte.

“Under the proceeding, the owners of the seized iron ores, Uni-Dragon Mining Development Corporation (Uni-Dragon) and Philippine Bao Tong, will be accorded with due process by giving them opportunity to present evidences and prove why the iron ores should not be confiscated in favor of the government,” MGB Director Leo Jasareno explained.

On June 15, 2012, a joint team composed of personnel from the DENR and the PNP seized an estimated 50,000 metric tons of magnetite sand (iron ore) stockpiled near the private wharf of Uni-Dragon and Philippine Bao Tong in Paracale, Camarines Norte after being alerted by some local government officials in the area.

In a report to DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, Jasareno said the magnetite sand were about to be shipped to China when four personnel from the MGB-Region 5, assisted by eight police officers from the Mobile Group of PNP-Region 5 based in Legazpi City, swooped down the area.

Jasareno said that a cargo ship M/V Peace Angel was seen by the raiding team anchored at a distance of about a kilometer offshore from the mining area, and was believed to be waiting for iron ore to be loaded into it when the team arrived at the area. It was reportedly bound for China.

Jasareno said that Uni-Dragon and its business partner Philippine Bao Tong had defied the Cease-and-Desist Order (CDO) issued by the MGB last year, and continued with their mining and stockpiling operations despite a previous seizure issued on September 11, 2011 covering about 35,000 metric tons of magnetite sand also stockpiled by them.

“The shipment and extraction of the magnetite sand are considered illegal because, aside from the fact that Uni-Dragon and Philippine Bao Tong could not present a Mineral Ore Export Permit (MOEP) from MGB, the mining companies are not allowed to commercially extract and dispose the minerals because the two Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) issued to them are still under exploration,” Jasareno said.

The two MPSAs were issued to the mining companies on November 4, 2008, covering some 282 hectares in Barangay Bagong Bayan, Paracale in Camarines Norte,” Jasareno said.

He also said the mining companies have yet to file an application for declaration of mining project feasibility and mine development work program at the MGB, which shall be the basis of evaluation to be conducted by MGB’s technical panel.