THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it hopes to remove “outdated” rules for small-scale miners after announcing a review of a 1991 law governing that segment of the industry.

“We will be undertaking a comprehensive review of the existing legal framework (for) mining — this will be the first area that the department will be reviewing. We are undertaking review of certain laws, they are somewhat outdated as you know,” Environment Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said in a briefing on Wednesday. 

Ms. Yulo-Loyzaga said the department is looking in particular to update Republic Act 7076 or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991.

“We are looking very closely in this Small-Scale Mining Act and what needs to be done to update it. We’re hoping that some of the large companies can help us with the social protection and environmental protection side for the small-scale miners,” she said.

Ms. Yulo-Loyzaga said the DENR is looking to “revitalize” the mining sector as minerals will be critical for the economic recovery, adding that “responsible mining” must be viewed in the context of “what mining can deliver to a country’s development.”

She said that the department hopes to announce the priority areas for review, which will take place over the next six months.

Ms. Yulo-Loyzaga said that to date there are 53 “Minahang Bayan” areas open to small-scale miners, mostly in the Cordillera and Davao regions.

“These are where we need to concentrate because as you know there are needs as far as the Minahang Bayan process is concerned, especially in the protection of our small-scale miners. There’s also an aspect to environmental protection because as you know small-scale miners are only allowed to use certain artisanal tools,” she said.  

Minahang Bayan are designed to regulate the small-scale mining industry by defining the areas they are allowed to operate observing DENR guidelines.

“At this point, for this very, very much needed is collaboration and close cooperation with the local government,” Ms. Yulo-Loyzaga said.  

She said that the DENR is looking at expanding discussions with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and local chief executives regarding the operation of Minahang Bayan areas. — Ashley Erika O. Jose