Eighteen Chinese men have been captured in the Philippines after they were believed to be involved in illegal black sand mining.
The men were caught after the Philippines’ justice department raided two mines operated by Chinese company Hua Xia Miing and Trading Corp. in the northern coastal town of Aparri.
It is illegal in the Philippines to mine within 200 metres of a beach. While the company is allowed to mine for magnetite from a close-by river, they are prohibited to mine from the coast.
The men could be up against criminal charges after it was found they did not have permits to work in the country, the ABC reported.
“Nine Chinese nationals were burrowing and processing magnetite sand within the prohibited zone,” Philippines’ justice department spokesman Alex Lactao said.
“The other nine were arrested at a nearby beach where they were building a magnetite processing plant.”
The captures follow arrests 2010 when 80 Chinese miners were detained from a chromite mine and another eight at another chromite mine last year.
According to Philippines local authorities, Chinese demand for magnetite from steel mills has seen an increase in the illegal mining of the iron ore in Philippines.
According to environmentalists, illegal magnetite mining has spoilt the Philippines coast due to erosion. They believe this is mostly caused by Chinese junior mining companies, who usually run in cahoots with local government officials.
The problem of illegal Chinese miners is not confined to Philippines. Illegal Chinese miners have been leaving Ghana, Africa by the thousands after Ghana officials began a crackdown on illegal miners since June.
These include miners who were arrested and those who handed themselves in voluntarily to immigration authorities in Ghana.
Authorities have also been arresting Russians, Nigerians and Niger citizens. Ghana immigration spokesman Francis Palmdeti said anyone who engages in illegal mining will be arrested regardless of nationality.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Ghanaians or foreigners. Once your actions are injurious to the environment you will be stopped.”