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Business

More Minahang Bayan approvals seen this year

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government expects at least six new Minahang Bayan applications to be approved within the year, an official of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said.

In an interview, MGB director Wilfredo Moncano told reporters the agency is making progress with its Minahang Bayan program, which aims to regulate small-scale mining operations in the country.

“We already have 29 declared Minahang Bayan areas and we’re moving fast,” Moncano said.

“We have endorsed a lot of applications to the Office of the Secretary (DENR) for clearance,” he said.

Moncano said there are about five or six more applications endorsed to the DENR for clearance.

Moncano is hopeful the pending applications will be approved within the year as the program is the only way that small-scale mining will be legalized.

“Our understanding of the DENR secretary is that the only way to integrate the small-scale mining industry to the mainstream is through legalization,” Moncano said.

He emphasized that as the program legalizes small-scale mining operations, stricter requirements would be needed for applications.

“Actually what’s slowing down the declaration of a Minahang Bayan is because of the many requirements,” Moncano said.

Apart from the five or six applications endorsed to the Office of the Secretary, Moncano said the MGB still has more than 100 Minahang Bayan applications on the table.

Meanwhile, Moncano stressed the importance of the declaration of a Minahang Bayan, noting that small-scale mining contracts cannot be issued unless an area is declared as a Minahang Bayan.

Earlier this year, MGB approved the contract between the government and the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association (LIPMA) in Itogon, Benguet for the declaration of a 64.4 hectare site as a Minahang Bayan.

It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the gold mined in the Philippines are from unregulated small-scale operations.

Declaring an area as a Minahang Bayan will centralize the processing of minerals within a zone where the government will be able to monitor gold production by small-scale miners better.

It helps the government curb illegal mining and mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of indiscriminate mining operations in the country.

MINAHANG BAYAN

MINES AND GEOSCIENCES BUREAU

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