Government expedites small-scale mining regulation

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - December 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government is intensifying the regulation of small-scale mining operations in the country, particularly in monitoring undisposed residual stockpiles outside mining sites as it continues to revamp the extractive industry.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through attached agency Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), recently issued an administrative order that will speed up the environmental restoration both during and after mining operations by a Minahang Bayan.

A Minahang Bayan is a government-regulated cooperative of small-scale miners organized in a certain area or region.

Under the new DAO, small-scale mining operations will now have to meet stricter conditions in the disposal of residual stockpiles, or ores previously extracted but not yet disposed during the mining contract.

The disposal will be implemented under a required environmental management plan which miners must submit to report their environmental management objectives and their commitment to protect and rehabilitate the disturbed environment during disposition of residual stockpiles.

The latest move of MGB follows a multi-step campaign to increase the regulation of small-scale mining, in addition to stricter policing of the entire industry.

“We understand the negative view of mining, but we want the public to know that mining is not the same as it was before the Mining Act of 1995,” MGB director Wilfredo Moncano said.

“The MGB is working to improve the regulations on mining, to safeguard environmental protection, and protect the community,” he said.

Among the steps taken to increase the regulation of small-scale mining were the provision of incentives in legalizing small-scale mining operations and the fast tracking of application processes for various licenses.

The excise and income taxes for small-scale mining operations were also waived to encourage illegal operators to become legal and adhere to environment and safety standards.

The MGB also facilitated a Global Environment Facility-funded project valued over $11.7 million to eradicate the usage of mercury in small-scale gold mining operations early this year.

“The approach really has to be inclusive. Outright prohibition and taxation only pushes small-scale miners into the black market,” Moncano said.

He said this was part of a long initiative to improve the mining industry overall under the present administration.

Alongside all these steps, the MGB recently kicked off an information and education campaign to promote responsible mining.

Dubbed #MineResponsibility, the campaign aims to educate the public on the regulation of mining to promote responsible mining practices, and to show that the government is committed to the priority of upholding the safety of people and the environment in the mining industry.

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