Government eyes more Minahang Bayan areas

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - April 21, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government plans to declare at least seven new Minahang Bayan sites this year, an official of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said.

“The target for the year 2021 is (to have) at least seven declared Minahang Bayan areas to bring the total to 46,” MGB director Wilfredo Moncano told The STAR in a text message.

Moncano said that as of April 12, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had cleared three applications for declaration as Minahang Bayan.

Among these are the Benguet Federation of Small Scale Mining Association in Tuba, Benguet, the Bulawan Landowners Small Scale Mining Association in Calanasan, Apayao and the Albor Small Scale Mining Cooperative in Libjo on Dinagat Island.

Both the Benguet and Apayao sites involve the mining of gold, while the Dinagat Island site involves the mining of chromite.

Moncano said the rest of the Minahang Bayan applications are in different states of processing.

He explained that when a site is cleared by the DENR secretary for declaration as Minahang Bayan, the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) in each province concerned would be the one to declare the area as a Minahang Bayan.

“It will open the area for application for small-scale mining contracts and small-scale mineral processing permits, but these applications will be processed by the PMRB and the governor of the province,” Moncano said.

A Minahang Bayan or People’s Small-Scale Mining Area is an area given by the government to small-scale miners under actual exploration, development, exploitation or commercial production.

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.

The PMRB will have direct supervision and control over the programs and activities of the small-scale miners within the Minahang Bayan.

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