The legalization of small scale mining operation in Benguet province is again being sought following the death of three small-scale miners in two separate incidents in Itogon last week.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau-CAR has earlier stated its position for the legalization of 60 small-scale gold mining operations in the province, so that through the Benguet Provincial Mining Regulatory Board, their production, safety, and protection will be monitored.
“If all the gold and copper mining operations of these small scale miners are legalized, we will have regular on-site inspections and can enforce more rules on safety and environment protection,” MGB Regional Director Fay Apil said.
The legalization of the small-scale miners and its operation will also ensure the safety of miners particularly in conducting their operations, Apil said.
She added their concern on these mining operations was affirmed during the Philippine Mining Safety and Environment Association meeting, where death of small-scale miners in the area due to accidents have been reported.
The causes of accidents in the past five years varied from flooded tunnels, caved-in tunnels, to presence of poisonous gases.
Two pocket miners on April 13 died due to accidental blasting in Tococ, Abulayan, Dalicno, Ampucao in Itogon.
The Itogon Municipal Police Station identified the victims as Rodel Balangan Diwag of Tinglayan, Kalinga and Ben Sacgaca Mangay-at, a native of Sabangan, Mountain Province and a resident of Quirino Hill, Baguio City. Both were stay-in pocket miners of Albino Diego at Dalicno, Benguet.
Itogon MPS Chief Fernando Botangen said the victims together with another pocket miner, Brendo Segundo, wired 12 pieces of dynamite sticks that exploded before they could come out of the tunnel.
Several miners who immediately responded retrieved the bodies of the victims and brought them to the Baguio Memorial Chapel.
On April 17, another mine accident occurred at the tunnels of Level 1500 in Virac, Itogon. Police investigation showed a group of miners were inside a tunnel going to their designated working area when the timber of the old tunnel collapsed and hit them.
Orlando Dalasen of Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya and Arnold Guiamas of Tadian, Mountain Province, both residents of Old Forest Tree, Virac, Itogon, were seriously injured and were rushed to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. Dalasen was declared dead on arrival while Guiamas was confined.
The other miners immediately reported the incident to the Safety Department of the Benguet Corporation.