TWO areas in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) may be declared “Minahang Bayan” for use by small-scale miners this year, out of 60 to 65 pending applications being considered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Undersecretary Analiza A. Rebuelta-Teh said on Wednesday said “Minahang Bayan” reservations are intended to help small-scale miners operate safely and earn a livelihood. Minahang Bayan refers to common areas where small-scale mining is permitted.
Small-scale mining came into focus after the passage of typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) through northern Luzon, causing a landslide that killed dozens of small-scale miners in Itogon, Benguet.
“Before this happened, we were putting together a road map for small-scale miners, to improve the viability of Minahang Bayan. We were hoping to help applicants comply with the requirements. In Cordillera, only two have submitted complete requirements (to declare a site) a Minahang Bayan area. About 60 or 65 have pending application,” Ms. Teh told reporters at the Philippine Mining Conference and Exhibit 2018 held in Sofitel.
She said the two sites with complete requirements are outside Itogon and might make it through the process within the year. Ms. Teh said the target is to have at least one Minahang Bayan per region.
Ms. Teh said miners in a Minahang Bayan reservation need to comply with regulations, including environmental rules, and the mandatory sale of gold to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas only.
Ms. Teh said for small-scale mining, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is focused on environmental considerations, mine safety, sanitation, and the payment of correct taxes.
Meanwhile, Board of Investments director Nestor R. Arcansalin, who heads the agency’s resource-based industries group, said in a speech that the Philippines’ mining potential might lie in iron ore, noting the country’s magnetite deposits which might someday supply an integrated mining and steelmaking operation.
“We hope it will be looked at by investors,” according to Mr. Arcansalin, who described the magnetite as low-grade but requires little effort to process.
“The Philippines has around 1.56 billion metric tons of iron ore and very high inventories of magnetite sand are found in Leyte and Cagayan,” according to Mr. Arcansalan.
Mr. Arcansalan said that BoI has an iron and steel industry road map which seeks to make the country as a majority producer of quality steel by 2030, supplying 70% of the Apparent Steel Consumption (ASC) requirement, translating to 130 kilograms per capita. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio