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PIA Press Release

Benguet SP conducts public hearing for small scale mining ordinance

by SC Aro

La Trinidad, Benguet (20 February) -- A proposed ordinance for the establishment of small scale miners framework for operation was brought to life in a public consultation held last week at the Ben Palispis Auditorium last week.

As can be recalled, there was a proposed measure in 2006 dubbed, "Establishing the Framework for the Operation of Small Scale Mining in the Province of Benguet and Establishing implementing mechanisms for the purpose" that would pave the way in addressing the concerns of the underground industry and economy as well.

Former Board Member Aloysius Kato, who then chaired the committee on environment authored the proposed ordinance. A public hearing took place in 2007 and was on standstill since then.

Prompted with the compounding issues and concerns on the industry, the present administration resurrected the measure.

Vice Governor Crescencio Pacalso, who facilitated the public hearing held last week attended by small scale miners of the province, assured approval of the ordinance before June should the small scale miners cooperate in giving additional inputs the soonest aside from those already inputted for review and for final integration.

Benguet Small Scale Miner Federation President Engr. Lomino Kaniteng, who also supported the localization of the Small Scale Mining Act, witnessed the activity together with incumbent committee chair on environment Board Member Eddie Amuasen.

Prior to the presentation of the ordinance, Pacalso presented Republic Act 7076 otherwise known as the Small Scale Mining Act and Administrative Order 34 or its implementing Rules and Regulations as legal basis in localizing measure. He also presented other related mining laws.

There were issues raised for consideration and clarification such as qualifications to become small scale miner. It may be individually or as a group. However, group application should organize as a cooperative to apply for a "Minahang Bayan" where they will undertake operations limited to only one municipality as provided for, Kaniteng stressed.

There were also issues raised on the utilization of forest products for mining operations. Pacalso said they will look into the integration of appropriate forestry laws such as applying the concept of Integrated Social Forestry or the Community-based Management System (CBMS) covering their activities.

Pacalso pushed on giving more teeth on the evaluation of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau on the identification of active or inactive mining areas. If inactive as suggested by Kaniteng this will be a basis in petitioning for declaring the area as "Minahang Baya."

Other proposed provisions for inclusion are on mining tenement holders, on the area being applied for with existing claimants with prior rights, and on the issue of mining rights and surface rights.

Kaniteng said there are about 22,000 small scale miners in the province affiliated with 62 associations. They produce an average of three tons of gold annually. For the last 15 years, Kaniteng said small scale miners sold a total of P125 billion worth of gold compared to the production of one large mining company amounting to P51billion.

The province is currently having an inventory and profiling of small scale miners expected to be completed this June. (PIA-Benguet) [top]

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