Lifting of ban on small-scale mining nixed
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has turned down a petition to lift the ban on small-scale mining in the Cordillera.
The ban was put in place following a landslide in Benguet that left 89 persons dead.
In a statement, Cimatu said the suspension order would “remain in effect until a “minahang bayan” is declared and once it is already safe for mining operations to resume.”
A minahang bayan is an area designated for small-scale miners.
There are 65 pending applications for a minahang bayan—none of which has been approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is eyeing two areas in the Cordillera to become a minahang bayan.
Cimatu has ordered the provincial mining regulatory board (PMRB) in Benguet to fast-track the declarations of such sites for use by small-scale miners in the province.
The statement also said Cimatu had a meeting with miners and told them that they would keep their claim to the mineral resources in the area.
During the same dialogue, MGB geologist Liza Manzano characterized the area as “highly vulnerable” because of its susceptibility to geological hazards.
The agency’s focus on small-scale mining comes after an earlier crackdown on large-scale mines—many of which were either closed or suspended for environmental violations. —KARL R. OCAMPO