Government likely to approve 3 Minahang Bayan
The government is likely to approve only three Minahang Bayan applications this year from the 141 pending applications.
“Even if we want to declare and formalize more Minahang Bayan, the fact is there are a lot of hurdles. Sometimes, the small-scale miners are the ones that are not organized which take the whole process longer,” Environment Undersecretary for mining Analiza Teh said.
Among the issues that need to be resolved include the overlapping of areas with the large-scale mining sites.
“There are a lot of requirements and they have to undergo environmental impact assessment. If we don’t approve, illegal small scale mining will proliferate,” Teh said.
It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the gold mined in the Philippines comes from unregulated small scale operations.
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 impact of indiscriminate mining operations in the country.
Currently, only about 26 Minahang Bayan, both nationally and locally declared, and are operating in the country, but more than 100 applications are pending with the DENR and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. Majority of these are in Cordillera, Bicol, Compostela Valley and Zamboanga.
While small scale firms produce more than the large scale industry, the Philippines does not benefit from them in terms of taxation, as they are not being regulated.
The DENR is already crafting a six-year roadmap for the small-scale mining industry to improve mechanisms, allow them to be viable, improve the system and enhance the existing guidelines.