MacArthur, a town endowed with rich fertile lands and a lake is threatened by black sand mining. As a result of the mining activities, 70 hectares of irrigated rice fields have been turned into a wasteland.
While some companies, such as the Nicua Mining Corporation, held an official permit to mine black sand, there has been further evidence of illegal black sand mining in the region . Black sand is largely sold to other Asian countries, with China being the biggest buyer .
In March 2012, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported that contamination from oil and grease from Nicua’s mining operation lead to a massive fish kill in Lake Bito . In June 2012, farmers and fishermen went to court and filed an application for a temporary environmental protection order (EPO) to stop the mining operations of Nicua Mining corporation on prime agricultural land . The villagers are afraid of the irreversible environmental impacts mining has on water sources and how it encroaches their agricultural lands .
In response to the contamination of Bito Lake, in August 2012, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) suspended the operation of Chinese firm Nicua Mining Corporation, due to evidence of having used inappropriate mining methods . Moreover, Nicua employed Chinese workers without having permits, and authorized a second party to mine in the area, without permission from MGB .
In 2013, in addition to the mining threats, the devastating hurricane Yolanda further destroyed the area, adding new challenges, while black sand mining remains a central threat to the communities .