Green mining tech helps small-scale miners

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A breakthrough technology developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will benefit thousands of small-scale miners in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley who rely on copper and gold mining as their sole source of livelihood.

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Some 300,000 small-scale miners in the country will also benefit from this cyanide-free mining technology after the agency devised an environment friendly process for extracting gold and copper sans the use of toxic chemicals like mercury and cyanide.

This technology is believed to be economically viable, safe, and sustainable, thus ensuring the miners with steady income while protecting the environment from hazardous wastes from mine tailings.

Jointly undertaken by DOST and the University of the Philippines Diliman-Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (UPDMMME), the technology uses the so-called “enhanced gravity concentration-flotation-extraction” process and uses an integrated tailings disposal and treatment system. This method assures that waste materials that are disposed in the environment are safe and considered as non-pollutant.

The other benefit of this method, aside from being safe and eco-friendly, is the economic factor that will spruce up the small-scale miners’ income potential. The process allows for an 85 –90 percent recovery rate of gold and other valuable minerals like copper and zinc compared with only 40 percent using the old or traditional method.

“This innovation that the DOST has developed will bring more benefits for our more than 300,000 small-scale miners all over the country because it poses no threat to their safety and to the environment,” DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said.

On March 15, 2016, the Science and Technology department together with government officials of Compostela Valley led the groundbreaking ceremony of the Field Testing of the Integrated Gold-Copper Mineral Processing Pilot Plant in Barangay Katipunan, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley.

Similar testing plants have already been set up in other areas where gold, copper and zinc are abundant like in Barangay Gumatdang, Itogon, Benguet; Paracale in Bicol Region and in Barangay Del Pilar, Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte in the CARAGA Region.

NEIL A. ALCOBER

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