THE Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) said that the government is uncoordinated in regulating small-scale mining operations and the creation of Minahang Bayan reserves will only make matters worse.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 65th Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference, PMSEA president Walter B. Brown said: “Our problem has been really, up to now, (the absence of) good coordination between the various agencies because there are so many departments involved and they’re not coordinated well.”
“We talk to them but we’ve got too many laws and some of them need to be amended. Like Minahang Bayan, the intention is good but solution makes things because… you can’t use chemicals, explosives, any heavy equipment and who can operate under those conditions?” Mr. Brown added.
The Minahang Bayan scheme sets aside certain areas for small-scale miners. Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered the fast-tracking of Minahang Bayan applications.
Mr. Brown, however, said that the government should close all Minahang Bayan sites and begin establishing a program proposed by the association featuring partnerships with major mining firms.
“The should close all existing Minahang Bayan and institute a program which we propose, what we call the ‘big brother approach’ under which we get the established big mining company that’s working in the area to work in coordination with the government and with the small-scale miners,” Mr. Brown said.
“You have to take a unified approach. Some of them you can integrate into mines but deal with the established mining companies because the small miners also have small capital to comply. In the mining industry now, the first thing we do before we begin to mine is to look where we can build a new acceptable tailing span,” Mr. Brown said. He said that a ‘big brother’ approach has already been started in Compostela Valley which is working well for the sector. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio