LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Thousands of pocket miners from the different mineral-rich towns get a sigh of relief after the Provincial Mining Regulatory board approved a 30-day grace period for them to process their stockpiled ore for them to acquire income to sustain the living condition of their families.
The temporary permit granted to over 25,000 pocket miners will run through November 1 to 30, 2018 without extension and with the condition that only ball milling and sluicing will be the mode of extracting the deposited minerals from the extracted ore.
Engr. Fay W. Apil, PMRB chairperson and regional director of the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR), said the grace period granted by the regulatory body to the pocket miners to process their extracted ore will be a test period to ascertain their sincerity to comply with the issued cease and desist order against all small-scale mining activities regionwide.
“We received varying requests on the period to process their ore from numerous small-scale mining associations that is why we decided to initially grant them a fixed period of one month for us to observe their sincerity and commitment to comply with the stringent regulations contained in the temporary permits that were issued,” Apil stressed.
The PMRB chairperson pointed out that the temporary processing of mine ore will be subject to strict monitoring by barangay officials, police and military and personnel of the PMRB and volunteers who will be doing the inspection anytime, thus, pocket miners should abide by the prescribed processing rules and regulations if they do not want that the granted period will be eventually cancelled.
According to her, there were a number of small-scale mining associations who insisted the processing through carbon in palp and carbon in leach will be allowed but she stood firm on the stand of the PMRB that no chemicals should be used in the processing of the extracted ore.
The MGB-CAR official claimed that the issuance of the temporary permit for the processing of mine ore was a product of the directive from Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu for the PMRB to decide on the matter and consider the plight of the affected small-scale miners who were able to stockpile mine ore prior to the occurrence of the tragic landslide incident in Ucab, Itogon town that claimed the lives of nearly 7 individuals, mostly pocket miners, to the height of the wrath of Tropical cyclone Ompong.
She narrated that there were some groups who requested for a 70-day grace period while other groups requested for 40 days, 60 days among other similar requests that is why the PMRB decided to issue a uniform period for them to process their already extracted ore.
Apil urged all small-scale mining groups that were issued temporary permits to only process their extracted ore that have been stockpiled considering that extraction will no longer be allowed, thus, those with stockpiled mine ore in their tunnels will be accompanied by MGB personnel to check the veracity of the existence of the stockpiled ore prior to the hauling of the same for eventual processing.