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The Itogon-Suyoc Resources, Inc. (ISRI) a subsidiary of Apex Mining, is offering an economic lifeline to the pocket miners in their municipality through the big brother, small brother concept. ISRI has already presented this concept to Itogon’s Mayor Victorio Palangdan as a sustainable way to help revive the local economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under an acceptable commercial agreement, ISRI will help the small-scale mining groups within their tenements organize themselves ensuring strict implementation of safety standards (mining activities will only be conducted in approved areas), adherence to approved mining and rehabilitation programs and compliance with environmental and labor laws.
The advantages of the big brother, small brother approach include a safer operating environment for the small-scale miners, minimal displacement of people and livelihood, promotion of environmental protection and proper accounting of production and collection of taxes.
According to ISRI, only qualified, duly registered and legally compliant cooperatives or associations from the community will be considered to operate as service contractors in defined areas of the company’s mining property.
ISRI and the pocket mining groups may enter into an agreement subject to factors and conditions mutually agreed upon by both parties and subject to a periodic technical review and evaluation every three months from its effectivity. As there will be no employer-employee relationship between ISRI and the contractors, the said contractors will be responsible for the salaries and wages (including benefits mandated by law), discipline and safety of the workers.
According to ISRI, all contractors shall undergo the company’s standard miners underground orientation, including safety, security and ISO compliance; new or additional miners of the team should undergo the same training before reporting underground. Further, the company shall provide assistance through technical trainings to promote technical competence among the members of pocket mining groups.
With safety as one of the cornerstones of the big brother, small brother scheme,
ISRI also requires contractors to have a duly accredited safety officer as part of the latter’s team. While it requires contractors to provide the essential tools, safety gadgets, and other necessary kits for their employees, ISRI may initially issue the standard personal protective equipment (PPE) at cost, to be deducted from their billing.
Apex has successfully implemented this big brother, small brother approach in its mine site in Maco (Davao de Oro).