BAGUIO CITY – Small-scale miners regionwide wanting to renew their contracts or those applying for new contracts within declared Minahang Bayan sites will now have to undergo the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of their host communities before being issued permits to operate small-scale mines in their areas.
Engr. Faye W. Apil, regional technical director of the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR), sand the revised implementing guidelines of Republic Act (RA) 7076 or the Small-Scale Mining Act now requires small-scale mining operators to have their centralized processing plant complete with amenities and tailings storage facility to ensure lesser impact of their pocket mining operations and to allow government regulators to be able to constantly monitor their compliance to health, environment and safety standards.
Like large-scale mining operators, Apil revealed small-scale mining contractors are also mandated to have their own community development projects for their host communities in order to make sure that they bring back portions of their income for the development of their host and neighboring communities and the local residents.
At the same time, the MGB-CAR official revealed small-scale miners are also obligated to have their respective environmental protection and enhancement program similar to that of the requirements for large-scale mining operations in order to ensure that the state of the environment in the areas where they are doing pocket mining will be enhanced and sustained for the benefit of the present and future generations.
Apil added the MGB-CAR will strictly monitor all small-scale mining permits issued so that they will be constrained to pay taxes to the government as part of their obligations considering that it is the State that owns the minerals that they are exploiting, developing and utilizing.
According to her, small-scale mining contracts have a lifespan of two years, thus, those small-scale mining operators who will be renewing their contracts or those who will be applying for new concessions will undergo the stringent procedures required by the revised implementing rules and regulations.
Apil cited the authority to sign small-scale mining permits has now been delegated to the MGB director from the previous governor but the deliberation of the permits must still pass through the provincial or city mining regulatory boards as the case may be prior to the signing of the permits after the same shall have been approved through a resolution.
“We are still looking into the possibility of clustering small-scale mining operations, especially for those who are similarly situated, that is why we cannot still actually determine how many Minahang Bayan will be established in the different parts of the region pursuant to existing rules and regulations,” Apil said.
The MGB-CAR official appealed to small-scale mining associations to already file their applications with the agency so that their applications will be subsequently be deliberated upon and will be subjected to the new rules prior to the issuance of their permits once they are able to hurdle the stringent requirements for their desired pocket mining operations in their places of interest.
By Dexter A. See