ISRI offers big brother, small brother arrangement to pocket miners

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ITOGON, Benguet –  The Itogon Suyoc Resources, Inc. (ISRI), a subsidiary of the Davao-based Apex Mining Company (AMCI), recently offered to pocket miners in the municipality the so-called ‘big brother, small brother’ concept to pave the way for the harmonious co-existence between the large-scale mining company and pocket miners within its tenement area.

Under an acceptable commercial agreement, ISRI stated that large-scale mining companies will assist small-scale mining groups within their respective tenements to organize themselves into a structure that will ensure strict implementation of safety standards, mining activities can be conducted in approved areas, adherence to approved mining and rehabilitation program and compliance with environmental laws.

ISRI explained that among the advantages of the ‘big brother, small brother approach’ include safer operating environment for small-scale miners, operations of small-scale miners will be legally compliant having all permits and licenses that will be handled by the company, minimal displacement of people and livelihood, promotion of environmental protection, proper accounting of production and collection of taxes and enhancement of political and social stability by upgrading the public appreciation of the need for corporations, local governments and the public to work together in a legal manner for the common good.

ISRI claimed that it will only allow qualified and duly registered cooperatives or associations from the community to operate as service contractors in defined areas of the company’s mining property and that there shall be no employee-employer relationship between ISRI and the contractor’s, their miners and workers.

Under the aforesaid scheme, the contractors will be responsible for the payment of salaries and wages, including benefits mandated by law, of their workers aside from having the responsibility for the discipline and safety of its workers. ISRI pointed out that the agreement that will be entered by the company and the pocket mining groups shall cover a period of 6 moths subject to factors and conditions determined by ISRI and agreed by both parties and subject to a periodic technical review and evaluation by the parties every 3 months from its effectivity.

According to ISRI, all contractors shall undergo the company standard miners underground orientation that will include safety, security and ISO compliance and that all new or additional miners of the team should undergo the similar training before reporting underground. Further, the company shall conduct technical trainings on standard development designs, use of company equipment and support facilities and proper handling of explosives.

ISRI stipulated that contractors must have a duly accredited safety officer to be part of the set of personnel who will inspect and ensure that the company’s safety protocols are implemented and that ISRI may train an employee of the contractor who will be designated as the safety officer.

Moreover, the contractor shall submit to ISRI an official list of miners or workers of their team and that ISRI should be informed of any changes and updates in the list of their manpower aside from identify in the number of manpower per awarded work area which shall be reviewed and approved by the company. ISRI requires contractors to provide the essential tools, safety gadgets, and other necessary kits for their employees but the company may provide the initial issue of standard personal protective equipment (PPE) to toe contractors at a cost and shall be deducted to their billing.

Among the contracted activities of the pocket miners include horizontal development, vertical development and stoping. ISRI proposed to the municipal government the adoption of the ‘ big brother, small brother concept’ to help pocket miners resume their small-scale mining activities after the same was ordered temporarily suspended by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in September 2018 right after the tragic landslide that happened in barangay Ucab where hundreds were reported to have died during the said incident.

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