(Department of Environment and Natural Resources Logo)

(Department of Environment and Natural Resources Logo)

MANILA, May 26 (Mabuhay) – More sites will be opened to small-scale miners under the proposed revisions to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the People’s Small- Scale Mining Act of 1991, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

“This would somehow level the playing field by allowing small-scale miners in areas previously only covered by large- scale mining areas,” MGB director Leo Jasareno said over the weekend, noting, “We lack areas for Minahang Bayan.”

The Mines Bureau also expects the revised rules and regulations – now awaiting the approval of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – the conflict between small-scale miners and the local government units (LGUs) that regulate them on the one hand and large-scale mining companies on the other.

With the revised IRR, new Minahang Bayan sites proposed by small-scale mining cooperatives will studied by the existing Provincial Mining Regulatory Board but the final approval will be made by the Environment and Natural Resources secretary.

According to the Mines Bureau, LGUs usually lack the technical know-how in monitoring the operations of small-scale miners.

There are more than 3,000 small miners across the Philippines, the bureau noted.

Under the revised IRR, Minahang Bayan sites will be regulated through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS) system that is also used for large-scale mining operations and takes into account the economic viability of the resources to be extracted and environmental safety aspects of the projects.

In every application and approval involving small-scale mining operations, the community hosting the site will be given preferential treatment, the bureau said, noting the applicants will have to produce a community development and management program for the benefit of the locales hosting their mining activities.

“All Minahang Bayan areas shall have a central processing plant. This will facilitate ease of monitoring of their operations unlike before when processing operations are scattered,” Jasareno said.

Small-scale mining operators are limited to extracting gold, silver and chromite, and they are not allowed to use hydraulic and compressor methods, as well as mercury in any phase of the processing stage, the bureau said. (MNS)