Documentation of small-scale mining operations difficult

BAGUIO CITY – Officials of the Cordillera offices of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA-CAR) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) admitted that there is no available documentation on the operations of small-scale mining regionwide that will gauge the significant contributions of pocket mining to the overall economic growth of the region.

Aldrin Federico R. Bahit, Jr., officer-in-charge of the PSA-CAR’s Statistical operations and coordination division, said small-scale mining activities in the different parts of the region are considered to be part of the underground economy because of their unregulated operations plus the fact that they do not actually sell their produce to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) which keeps records on the volume of minerals processed from the country’s mineral reserves.

“We continue to explore possible ways to cull out the accurate data on the production of pocket mining so that we will be able to have the correct data on the real contributions of mining to the region’s economy,” Bahit stressed.

Earlier, a group of small-scale miners in the region revealed that their annual production is much bigger in terms of volume compared to the declared mineral production of large-scale mining companies operating in the different parts of the region.

For his part, Engr. Francis Basali, chief of the DENR-CAR’s planning division, admitted that from 2006 to 2014, there were official declarations on the partial production of small-scale miners in the region as some of their groups were issued permits by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Boards (PMRBs); but last year, small-scale mining associations did not declare their production as all of them were not issued permits by virtue of the provisions of Executive Order (EO) No. 79 that mandated the establishment of Minahang Bayan areas in the different parts of the country.

According to him, small-scale mining is actually lucrative but the stringent regulations imposed by the government for the declaration of Minahang Bayan areas actually deprives them of the chance to legalize their operations and also have their production valued in terms of contribution to the economy of the region.

He revealed that small-scale miners prefer to sell their produce to enterprising gold and mineral buyers in the blackmarket, instead of selling to the BSP gold buying stations because of the excessive taxes being imposed, particularly the 5 percent excise tax and 2 percent percentage tax.

He called on small-scale mining associations in the different parts of the region to exert extra effort in facilitating the declaration of Minahang Bayan in their respective areas of operation to legitimize their operations and for concerned government agencies to have partial data on their production to used in evaluating their contribution to the overall economic standing of the region.

Registering with the concerned regulatory agencies will to prevent them from being harassed by unscrupulous individuals wanting to extort, according to Basali

By Dexter A. See