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BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR) disclosed that pocket miners in the different parts of Benguet are encountering complex problems ranging from the serious negative effects of natural calamities aggravated by legal and other related issues which are the root cause of their inability to resume operations, especially during this current crisis situation.
MGB-CAR regional director Engr. Fay W. Apil claimed it is not only the effect of Supertyphoon Ompong in September 2018 that compelled Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to temporarily suspend small-scale mining activities in the Cordillera, but also legal and other related issues that have complicated the situation, thus, the main source of livelihood of thousands of small-scale miners remain inoperative to date.
She explained that groups of small-scale miners have also to contend with the complexities of the put up of the Minahang Bayan having to secure the consent of large-scale mining companies that have mining claims over the proposed camote mining areas and the required conduct of free and prior informed consent (FPIC) in areas that are occupied by indigenous peoples or the proposed small-scale mining sites are within forest reservations where such environmentally-critical activity is prohibited.
The MGB-CAR official pointed out that the tedious processes involved in the operation of Minahang Bayan is also one of the reasons why many small-scale mining associations have not yet been allowed to establish the same in their desired areas of operation.
Aside from the aforesaid evident problems, Director Apil stated that the voluminous requirements and expensive cost of processing their applications for Minahang Bayan is obviously hindering the pocket miners in pursuing their desire to have a designated working area to pursue their legitimate source of livelihood.
However, she expressed optimism that most of the complex issues and concerns being raised against small-scale mining operations will be addressed in the coming months so that pending applications for the put up of Minahang Bayan in the different parts of the region will be pursued to provide sustainable sources of livelihood who rely on the same as their primary source of income to uplift the living condition of their families.
According to her, local governments and concerned government agencies extended assistance to the small-scale mining groups interested to put up Minahang Bayan sites in the different parts of the region but the complex issues and concerns confronting the industry is the major hindrance to the grant of the required permits that will allow the robust pocket mining activities to resume.
Currently, there is only one Minahang Bayan approved application in Itogon while there are more than 60 other applications that come from the different parts of the region pending in the various agencies for processing or are still hurdling numerous stages required to legitimize the small-scale mining activity.
Small-scale mining has been the major source of income of thousands of individuals coming from different parts of the country in several mineral-rich communities in Benguet over the past several decades.
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