COMP Welcomes Regulation of Small Scale Mining
Composed of some of the country’s largest mining companies, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has welcomed the proposal of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to further regulate small-scale mining (SSM) activities in the Philippines.
However, the group also added that MGB must be careful in putting stringent measures in place.
“We welcome the government’s efforts to bring the entire SSM operations within the ambit of regulation. SSM has a role to play in the development of our country’s mineral resources as SSM provides income and employment to our countrymen,” Rocky Dimaculangan, vice president for corporate communications at COMP, said. “So long as stringent security measures and safety protocols are followed — in coordination with the government, the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], and the PNP [Philippine National Police] — the use of explosives in mining is safe and globally accepted.”
Under current laws, the principle of SSM is artisanal which doesn’t allow the use of explosives and heavy equipment.
MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano said the plan is to amend the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act or Republic Act (RA) 7076 to expand the definition of SSM activities in the country. In this proposal, SSM should have two definitions - the first is to regulate the use of explosives and the other is to use the traditional method that depends heavily on manual labour.
In a report, Moncano said, “Despite several arrests and CDOs [cease and desist orders] in operations of the TF [task force] in these SSM hot spots, for some reason, they can still procure the explosives even if it is prohibited in SSM mining operations. The government needs to update the antiquated provisions of the law to be attuned to the current situation.”
Furthermore, Dimaculangan said that those who wish to go beyond the limitations of using heavy equipment and explosives should be properly regulated under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and should not only pay the excise tax but follow environmental protection and management regulations and rules. They should also implement community and social development programs as legitimate large-scale miners.
Meanwhile, Green Thumb Coalition (GTC) Convenor and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera said that if the government allows the use of explosives, this will negate the limited nature of SSM and introduce more risks to miners who don’t have proper training. “This will also increase the chances of illegal trading and illegal possession of explosives that can go to wrong hands (bandits, rebels) and tempt the custodians of explosives to sell explosives. This may result in more chaos in artisanal and SSM areas,” Garganera said, adding that MGB has limited capacity to regulate and monitor SSM. “It doesn’t even have a reliable database of SSM,” he said.