June 21, 2024

Only two small-scale mining associations in the Cordillera have so far been granted contracts to pursue their operations after their areas were declared minahang bayan sites.

Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau-Cordillera Director Faye Apil said out of the 13 areas that were declared minahang bayan, only two were granted small-scale mining contracts.

The two groups are the Loakan-Itogon Pocket Miners Association (Lipma) in Itogon, Benguet, the first to be granted a small-scale mining contract in the region, and the Northern Sagada Small-scale Miners Association, Inc. (NSBSSMAI) in Sagada, Mountain Province.

The Lipma’s area of operation, which is located within the patented mineral claims of Benguet Corporation, Inc., covers 15 hectares while the NSBSSMAI will operate within the 10-hectare minahang bayan.

Apil said the other small-scale associations have yet to comply with the requirements imposed by the MGB to ensure that small-scale miners operate responsibly.

“We want them to level up their operations and be responsible because responsible mining does not apply only to large companies, but also to small-scale miners.

Among the other requirements for the issuance of a mining contract, small-scale miners must engage the services of licensed mining engineers who will prepare their work programs and their potential environmental impact programs.

She added small-scale mining groups that operate in a declared minahang bayan also need to get the consent of the indigenous peoples in their areas of operation.

“We hope all the small-scale miner associations in the declared minahang bayan will eventually be issued their mining contracts to have their activities legalized,” Apil said.

The 13 minahang bayan in the Cordillera are located in Apayao with six sites, Benguet with four, and one each in Abra, Mountain Province, and Kalinga.

Apil said out of the 1,829,368 hectares land area of the Cordillera, 18,905 hectares or 1.02 percent is covered by mining tenements.

Apil said this area will increase once all the small-scale mining associations comply with the requirements and issued with mining permits. – Jane B. Cadalig