A small-scale miner takes a break from extracting gold in the village of Gumatdang in Itogon, Benguet. More than 60 percent of Gumatdang’s residents are engaged in small-scale mining. The STAR/Artemio Dumlao, File photo

Board OKs first small-scale mining contract in Benguet
Artemio Dumlao (Philstar.com) - April 29, 2019 - 2:13pm

LA TRINIDAD, Philippines — The Provincial Mining Regulatory Board of Benguet has approved the small-scale mining contract for a Minahang Bayan in the province.

Mines and Geoscience Bureau-Cordillera Regional Director Faye Apil called the approval of the first small-scale mining contract in Benguet and in the region historic as she announced the board's decision to approve the contract between the government and the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association (LIPMA) and the government of the Philippines.

LIPMA is based in the mining district in Itogon, Benguet.

The Minahang Bayan site is located within the patented mineral claims of Benguet Corporation Inc. which earlier made an endorsement of the application. It was issued a certificate of non-overlap by the National Commission in Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera.

The Benguet PMRB in January this year declared an area in Loacan, Itogon as a “Minahang Bayan” applied by the LIPMA after clearance from the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.

The LIPMA applied for an area covering 64.6486 hectares but only 15 hectares will be used for the association's mining area and centralized processing center, Apil clarified.

Operations can start when the PMRB awarda the contract to the mining association in coming weeks.

Benguet Federation of Small Scale Miners president Lomino Kaniteng welcomed the development, saying "it is good that we were able to tackle and resolve conflicts and issues before awarding the mining contract."

Dr. Peter Cosalan, who is on the board representing the non-government organization sector, said contractors and miners must make sure that operations will be safe, environment-friendly and efficient.

Benguet Provincial Administrator Noel Ngolob, who represented Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso, said the provincial government is optimistic that more “Minahang Bayan” will be approved and other small-scale mining contracts will be awarded so that more people will have alternative livelihood.

Apil said at least eight more applications for Minahang Bayan are pending approval in Benguet while at least three applications are being processed in Apayao. 

MINAHANG BAYAN SMALL-SCALE MINING
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