The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is undertaking a series of initiatives to formalize small-scale mining operations, recognizing their vital role in the industry. These initiatives are to be undertaken as the department undertakes a review of laws that cover small-scale mining, with the goal of modernizing industry standards and increased protection for small-scale miners.
DENR Undersecretary Carlos Primo David emphasized that these initiatives underscore the agency's dedication to responsible, inclusive, and globally competitive mining practices, all while ensuring the welfare and protection of small-scale miners. He stressed the importance of a progressive, step-by-step approach to formalization, with the ultimate goal of integrating small-scale miners into the broader mining sector.
“The small-scale miners are there. We have to bring them into the fold of the mining sector. The core of DENR's strategy lies in individually registering these small-scale miners, serving as the basis for a more organized structure,” said David.
“We’re looking to register small scale miners, individually, at first, followed by the establishment of a loose organization as the foundation for a more formal association. Sort of like a cooperative towards a Minahang Bayan registration.”
Legal recognition of small miners, according to David, will help ensure they get adequate support to operate within established standards and safety protocols.
“A properly regulated small-scale mining industry will benefit the community in terms of job creation and livelihood, and the country in terms of mining assets and taxes. More importantly, it will address the violation of environmental laws and mining regulations, and minimize environmental risks and promote mine safety,” David said.
He added that the Department’s newly-created Geospatial Database Office under his helm employs satellite imagery and Geographic Information System or GIS which can potentially monitor mining operations in the country and identify those which are illegally operating.
The DENR is looking to amend Republic Act 7076, also known as the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991, to provide social assistance, labor protection, and government-backed assistance programs for the benefit of small-scale miners. The DENR is also a staunch advocate of support for small miners, through a “big brother, small brother approach”—encouraging larger companies to help capacitate them to contribute to social and environmental protection efforts, protect small miners, and enhance the resilience of the mining community.
On top of capacity-building for small-scale mining ventures, the DENR is committed to modernizing standards for the mining industry—harnessing capabilities of cutting-edge technologies such as remote sensing and artificial intelligence to enhance industry regulation and law enforcement.
In a meeting with DENR officials last year, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. issued directives to legalize small-scale mining operations. Many of these operations currently operate outside the legal framework, leaving miners without proper protection.
Article courtesy of the DENR