THE Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) has included its first assessment of small-scale miners in the Fifth Country Report.

Environment Undersecretary for climate change and mining concerns Analiza R. Teh said that including the small-scale miners in the report will give a “more comprehensive view” of the industry.

“In the previous years, the inclusion of the small-scale mining sector was recommended and in this Fifth EITI report (includes a) pioneering transparency report on small-scale mining operations in South Cotabato,” Ms. Teh said during the launch of the fifth EITI report Wednesday.

Finance Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa S. Habitan said EITI stakeholders are actively trying to capture the impact of small mining operations.

“We’re hoping to get more involved in small-scale mining (operations) particularly because it means more to the communities. The more that we’re able to get information to them on how to better do mining, I think it’s all going to benefit all communities,” Ms. Habitan told reporters on the sidelines of the report launch.

In the fourth report launched in April 2018, Ms. Teh said the small-scale mining sector encompasses thousands of workers and accounts for a significant portion of the economy.

Speaking to industry groups and government officials, Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin said that the fifth report includes many “firsts” such as the pilot use of an online reporting tool, expanded coverage of non-metallic mining, and the first reports on beneficial ownership structures of companies in the industry.

Increased industry transparency is expected to increase the payments made by extractive firms commensurate to their impact on the environment.

In 2017, EITI claims to have generated P39.1 billion, up 43% from a year earlier.

EITI has been publishing annual country reports since 2014. The report serves a tool for policymakers and other stakeholders to determine the payments the government can generate from the sector. — Beatrice M. Laforga