LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Small-scale miners can now significantly increase their income from their ores once the non-mercury, non-cyanide gold processing protocol will be put in place through the full operation of the state-of-the-art gold processing plant based in Itogon, Benguet.
Victor Mariano, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-CAR), said miners can increase the gold extracted their ore through the use of the non-mercury, non-cyanide gold extraction protocol to as much as 70 percent of the content from the previous 50 percent.
“The non-mercury, non-cyanide gold processing protocol will be made available in different mining communities in the country once its operation is successful in Benguet through the existing facility based in Gumatdang, Itogon, Benguet. We want to make sure that our pocket miners will benefit from the expected operation of the plant by the second semester of this year,” Mariano stressed.
He said the equipment and machineries have already been put in place while the necessary testing will be done by experts through the approved protocol courtesy of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman and the training of the personnel operators of the facility will be done the soonest for the benefit of the small-scale miners in the different parts of the province.
Nancy Bantog, DOST-CAR assistant regional director, revealed P25 million was used for the installation of the equipment for the gold and copper processing plant while the remaining P15 million will be used as the plant’s maintenance and operating allocation to guarantee the full blast operation of the facility.
Bantog claimed the equipment and machines are already in place in the gold processing plant and what is being awaited is the finalization of the appropriate protocol to be used to guarantee a maximum of 70 percent recovery of the minerals from the ore to be processed by the plant once it will be operational by the second half of the year.
The establishment of the Benguet gold and copper processing plant is one of the flagship programs of the agency to help thousands of small-scale miners significantly increase their income from their activities to perk up economic growth in their areas of operation.
Mariano revealed the operation of the plan will be turned over later to the Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners to manage and operate as they are the direct project beneficiaries while the government will recover its expenses through the increased production and the excise and income taxes to be imposed on the gold that will be sold by the miners in the market.
Mariano claimed the plant will be environmentally friendly because it will wean away small-scale miners from mercury and cyanide use in their gold and copper extraction methods and shift to the non-mercury and non-cyanide gold processing extraction protocol devised to support efforts to preserve and protect the country’s environment from hazardous elements.