ITOGON, Benguet – The Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) supports the implementation and realization of the Minahang Bayan law to ensure the co-existence of the small-scale and large-scale miners to uphold the practice of responsible mining in the country.
PMSEA president Louie Sarmiento disclosed that a good number of mining companies are already partnering with the small-scale miners within their mining tenements in various ways suitable to the prevailing condition in the said communities.
For example, Sarmiento, who is also the president of the Davao-based Apex Mining Company, Inc. (AMCI), disclosed that in Benguet, the Itogon Suyoc Resources, Inc. (ISRI), a subsidiary of AMCI, is already implementing the big brother, small brother project in partnership with the various small-scale miners associations within its tenement area.
Under the ISRI’s big brother, small brother project, the mining company is the big brother while the small-scale miners is the small brother where the former will provide the latter with the appropriate trainings and some safety gears before being allowed to enter their assigned mine area for their small-scale mining activities under the close supervision of the firm’s technical personnel to ensure safe mining activities.
He explained that the big brother, small brother project aims to help the small-scale miners to effectively and efficiently address issues in the conduct of safe mining activities that will ensure the protection of the miners from being exposed to the dangers of mining and to guarantee income for them as the company will purchase the ore produced by the miners at prevailing prices.
On the other hand, the PMSEA official claimed there are also other mining companies that practice similar projects with the small-scale miners in their respective communities but in different ways applicable to the context in their places.
He pointed out there should be no small-scale or large-scale miners because both belongs to the mining industry, thus, what should be done is for both sectors to closely work together to ensure the practice of responsible mining that will uphold the efforts for the preservation and protection of the environment and the responsible development and utilization of the resources within their communities.
According to him, the requirements of the Minahang Bayan for small-scale miners to be registered and acquire the mandated small-scale mining contract are really stringent and the practice of the big brother, small brother project will definitely help in addressing major issues that small-scale miners cannot actually comply for them to legitimize their underground operations.
He expressed hope there will come a time that small-scale and large-scale miners will be working together as one because they actually belong to the mining industry to allow them to embrace the conduct of responsible mining that will guarantee the preservation and protection of the environment.