Itogon miners seek extension of temporary mining permits

admin   •   January 18, 2019   •   211

BENGUET, Philippines — Miners of Itogon, Benguet are asking the government to extend their temporary permits long enough to process and make money out of the mineral ores they had mined before operations were suspended in October.

“Ito ang pinapanawagan namin sa mga namumuno sa local government, sa ibang agencies na kaawaan sana kami na magbigay pa sila ng extension o ano pa mang klase ng trabaho para makakain ang mga tao dito,” said miner, John Latongan.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources suspended operations due to the tragic landslide in the area that took more than 60 lives in September last year during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong.

To avoid a repeat of the catastrophic event, the government announced it will only establish “Minahang Bayan” (people’s small-scale mining areas) in places that have been approved to be safe for mining operation.

At present, the DENR has approved one application in line with the decision of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board of Benguet.

About 56 hectares of land that are within the private property of Benguet Corporation have been greenlighted for declaration as a Minahang Bayan site in response to an application filed by the Loacan Indigenous Peoples Mining Association.

This is already a significant progress for Loacan miners even though there’s no assurance that they can operate right away.

“Ang gusto naming ipa implement yung order ni [Environment] Secretary Cimatu na yung workplace ng mga minero dapat ay safe at saka hindi namimix yung kanilang residential sa kanilang workplace. And they will do everything as a responsible small-scale mining up to the point that they should sell their gold to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” said Itogon Benguet, Municipal Mayor Victorio Palangdan.

Before they can operate, miners are required to secure a small-scale mining contract from the local office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Requirements for the application of Minahang Bayan include environmental compliance certificate (ECC), environmental plan, mining plan, health and safety plans.

The Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) is still waiting for the approval of seven more Minahang Bayan applications pending in the central office of the DENR. — Grace Doctolero


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