DENR wants tighter small-scale mining regulation
MANILA -The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) unveiled its plan to better regulate small-scale miners nationwide to formalize their operations and ultimately integrate them into a broader mining sector.
“We’re looking to register small-scale miners, individually, at first, followed by the establishment of a loose organization as the foundation for a more formal association. Sort of like a cooperative toward a Minahang Bayan registration,” Environment Undersecretary Carlos Primo David said.
Republic Act No. 7076, or People’s Small-scale Mining Act of 1991, defines small-scale mining as those extractive activities that rely on manual labor using simple implement and methods without using explosives or heavy mining equipment.
David said the registration of small-scale mining operations would help modernize industry standards and guarantee adequate support for them to operate within established standards and safety protocols.
“A properly regulated small-scale mining industry will benefit the community in terms of job creation and livelihood, and the country in terms of mining assets and taxes,” he said.
“More importantly, it will address the violation of environmental laws and mining regulations, and minimize environmental risks and promote mine safety,” he added.
The agency has been embarking on a “big brother, small brother” approach to encourage larger companies to help upskill and protect small miners and enhancing the mining sector’s resilience.
“On top of capacity-building for small-scale mining ventures, the DENR is committed to modernizing standards for the mining industry—harnessing capabilities of cutting-edge technologies such as remote sensing and artificial intelligence to enhance industry regulation and law enforcement,” it added.
The DENR is also “looking to the ”People’s Small-Scale Mining Act“ to provide social assistance, labor protection and government-backed assistance programs” to small miners.
This was a follow through of President Marcos’ pronouncement of legalizing small-scale mining operations in the country as many are operating outside the legal framework, putting them at risk.
Mr. Marcos, in his meeting with DENR officials in November last year, said there was a need to enhance social protection and security for workers in the industry.
There are 55 Minahang Bayans, or common areas dedicated to small-scale miners across the archipelago as of August this year, data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed.
The MGB received a total of 225 applications for Minahang Bayan in the first eight months of 2023. INQ