Government targets 150 Minahang Bayan areas by 2022

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government plans to declare around 150 Minahang Bayan areas in the next three years in line with efforts to make small-scale mining mainstream, an official of the Mines and Geosciences Board (MGB) said.

In a panel discussion during Philippine-Extractive Industries Transparencies Initiative (PH-EITI) National Conference last Wednesday, MGB director Wilfredo Moncano said the agency is fasttracking the processing of Minahang Bayan applications in a bid to legalize small scale mining.

“Right now, we already have 29 approved minahang bayan all over the country and we are reviewing several other applications,” Moncano said.

“We are targeting (to have) 150 Minahang Bayan areas in the next three years,” he added.

On the sidelines of the event, Moncano told reporters the MGB expects to approve around 40 Minahang Bayan applications per year until 2022.

“Up to the end of the year maybe we can get close to 40,” he said.

The MGB official earlier said there are currently about five or six Minahang Bayan applications that have been endorsed to the office of the DENR secretary for clearance.

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

“Our understanding with 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.

Moncano emphasized that the Minahang Bayan program, which aims to regulate small-scale mining operations in the country, will help boost the contribution of the mining sector to the economy.

“If we legalize, formalize the small-scale mining sector, we can capture the data and the contribution of the mining sector,” Moncano said.

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

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