ITOGON, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-CAR) announced that the multi-million non-toxic gold and processing plant established in barangay Gumatdang is now fully operational under the close supervision of the Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners.
DOST-CAR assistant regional director Norberto Cobaldes said that since its launching several months ago, the plant was already able to process some 170 tons of ore that were brought to the facility by members of the federation and that the output was obviously better.
“We hope that there will be a Minahang Bayan that will be approved in the province so that the members will be made to have their ore processed by the non-toxic plant for better recovery of the gold and copper considering that one of the requirements being imposed to those wanting their ore to be processed is the order transport permit which is only issued to legitimate small-scale mining groups,” Cobaldes stressed.
He said that the recovery of gold and copper using the facilities of the plant is slightly better compared to the traditional way of extracting minerals from the ore aside from the fact that the plant does not use harmful chemicals such as mercury and cyanide just to be able to extract gold and copper from the ores.
According to him, there is a need to intensify the campaign for legitimate small-scale mining groups to patronize the use of the non-toxic processing plant to maximize its potentials in generating greater volume of minerals from the ores being brought to the plant for processing.
It can be recalled that the DOST-CAR allocated the amount of P40 million from its budget four years ago purposely for the establishment of the non-toxic gold and copper processing plant using the technology that was developed by the University of the Philippines (UP) for the small-scale miners to be able to benefit from the greater volume of minerals that will be extracted from the ore through environmentally-friendly technologies.
Some P25 million was used for the transfer of the technology and the put up of the structure while the remaining funds will be used for the maintenance and other operating expenses that will be incurred in the operation of the said gold and copper processing plant.
DOST-CAR officials underscored the primordial benefit that could be derived from the operation of the plant is the increase in the volume of minerals that could be extracted from the ore that will translate to increased income aside from the fact that the plant no longer uses mercury and cyanide to separate the minerals which is hazardous to the state of the environment.
The facility was established in Benguet considering that pocket mining is one of the major sources of livelihood of the people, especially those situated in mineral-rich areas of the province but the problem of the small-scale miners is the difficulty in having their application for Minahang Bayan granted by the concerned government agencies and the local government comprising the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) which has been tasked to approve the application for the establishment of Minahang Bayan areas for the pocket miners.
By Dexter A. See