Small mining sites identified

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DAVAO CITY -- The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has identified six sites in three Compostela Valley towns for small-scale mining under the government’s Minahang Bayan program.


These sites, said Noel B. Angeles, head of the regional MGB office’s mine environment and safety division, are in the towns of Pantukan, Maragusan and Nabunturan.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples has already endorsed the sites to its central office. Each site will have about 20 hectares and will be mined by small-scale miners, who will be required to develop a plan and organize themselves into a cooperative.

The Minahang Bayan program is provided for in the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7076), identifying sites "suitable for small-scale mining, subject to review by the Secretary [of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources], immediately giving priority to areas already occupied and actively mined by small-scale miners."

These mining sites should not be under forest reservations and must not have been declared "tourist or marine reserves [or] parks and wildlife reservations, unless their status is withdrawn by a competent authority."

It is not known whether any of the six sites is within a mining tenement held by St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd., but the company earlier said it would work with small-scale miners so its project could proceed.

Clyde Gillespie, country director of the US-based Toronto Stock Exchange - listed company, said St. Augustine is prepared to invest $10 million in making sure small-scale miners operating within its tenement will have a better life.

The company has partnered with Nationwide Development Corp. on the 1,620-hectare mining reservation in King-king, Pantukan as the two companies agreed to start operating in 2017.

In dealing with the small-scale miners, Mr. Gillespie said the miners can work for the company, join skills training for other forms of livelihood, or mine a village mining site that the MGB would identify for them.

Based on the assessment by St. Augustine, there are about 3,000 small scale miners in the area. -- Carmelito Q. Francisco, Business World