BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Northern Sagada Barangay Small-Scale Mining Association, Incorporated (NSBSSMAI) just signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)–CAR and the Artisan Gold Council (AGC) held at the Myrna’s Hall, Samoki Valley Inn–Extension, Samoki on Tuesday, July 11, 2023.
Item 4.4.d of Section IV (Terms and Conditions of Small-Scale Mining Contract) of the Small-Scale Mining Contract states that the small-scale contractor (NSBSSMAI) shall “Not use mercury in any phase of small-scale mining.”
With the MOA, the NSBSSMAI has been granted P5.5 million assistance purposely for facilities and for their operation.
Other salient provisions under Section IV state that the small-scale contractor shall undertake extraction and/or breakage of materials without the use of explosives ingredients and/or explosives, blasting accessories, sophisticated and/or heavy equipment (4.4.b); not resort to hydraulicking or compressor mining at any stage of small-scale mining contract area 4.4.c); confine small-scale mining to its small-scale mining contract area (4.4.e); and abide by DAO No. 97-30, otherwise known as the “Small-Scale Mine Safety Rules and Regulations (4.4.f).
According to PlanetGOLD Philippines-Artisanal Gold Council National Project Manager Abigail Ocate, the MOA represents a significant mine’s nominal collective efforts and commitment towards a safer and more profitable artisanal small-scale gold mining center in Mountain Province.
“This MOA symbolizes Mountain Province firm artisanal commitment to support the small-scale miners in the Province, especially in Sagada, to promote an enabling environment for the miners to prosper and to proactively support them in legalizing and formalizing their operations to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury… to ensure environmentally and socially responsible miners practices and to recognize the efforts of the Sagada miners towards clean and responsible mining and to share their stories with other small scale mining communities,” Ocate said.
In his message, Governor Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. congratulated the group of small-scale miners and thanked the PlanetGOLD and the MGB for their steadfast assistance to the plight of miners in the province.
“This activity today will surely make a difference as far as the mining industry of the province is concerned. Your operations in Sagada will finally become legal and with the help of planetGOLD, will be environmentally friendly. For if you are aware, your application for a small-scale mining permit was opposed by some sectors because of the destruction it will cause the environment and the bad effects of mining to the health of the community people. So again, I hope that you will continue to cooperate with planetGOLD and seek the advice of your health officials led by Dr. Geovy Rose Wangdali-Aborque,” Lacwasan added.
Also, in her message, MGB-CAR Regional Director Fay W. Apil said that the NSBSSMAI is the first Minahang Bayan in Mountain Province to be declared by the MGB among the many applicants since she sat as chairperson of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board of Mountain Province in 2012.
According to her, the members of the organization refused to apply for a Minahang Bayan permit but with the continuous information, education, and communication campaign advocated by the MGB, in partnership with the Provincial Government and the PMRB, the group finally decided to take their operations to the right side of the law – legalization.
Apil also gladly informed that in the whole Philippines, there are only two recipients of the planetGOLD project in the Philippines – Paracale, Camarines Norte and Sagada, Mountain Province.
“I ask for your cooperation; kitan tayo ti importante; isu ti maysa nga reason why we give priorities kadagiday umili to be granted a small-scaling contract kasi ili dayta ket dakayo ti mangisakit isunga pintasen yu ti panag-operate yu. Uray nu small-scale miners tayo nga maibaga ket responsible tau nga miners and we are doing this because it is a livelihood. Isu ti pagbirukan tayo ti i-supporta tayo ti pamilya tayo but haan tayo met nga liplipatan ti responsibility tayo ti aglawlaw; agmula kayo ti kayo because there are times that we will be using timbers. … It is your responsibility, therefore, to recontribute to the reforestation of the community,” she said.
Meanwhile, in his message, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer-in-Charge, Raul I. Edan, also reminded the NSBSSMAI members of their obligations, specifically those stated in the MOA.
“Ti iprom-promote tayo ket responsible and safe mining so with the permit, that does not actually give you the license nga jay panag minas tayo ket maging iresponsable. So, I would like to remind you that we will be monitoring your activities ta iprom- promote tau garud jay safety and responsible mining, haan nga basta basta, jay ti turong tayo ditoy tapno haan nga madadael ti environment nga intayo pagalala-an ti resources tayo, and of course jay inbaga da nga about mercury,” he said.
So, again responsible mining and of course I would like to congratulate you although there were internal harms nu malagip yu ada ti nag issued ti representation, I congratulate yu ta nasettle and hopefully tuloy-tuloy… I congratulate you again kasi kunan ni maam, number 2 ksyo in the region as to the mining contract and I congratulate you also kasi idtoy Mountain Province, maibagan nga dakayu ti resident nga mabalin gayam nga maka-ala tayo ti permit; hopefully daytoy ta naruguan yun, ada dan to ti maka panunut met ket tuladen dan to dakayo and then they will also secure the small-scale mining contract so we can promote again jay kunkuna tayo nga safer and responsible mining. Congratulations kadakayo amin nga miners ditoy Sagada,” he added. By MP PIO