SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya: Economically displaced small-scale mining operators in the province will soon have the opportunity to continue with their livelihood with the establishment of the “Minahan ng Bayan” according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
MGB officials said the bureau is working on identifying mineral-rich areas for the establishment of the so-called Minahan ng Bayan in the copper, molybdenum and gold-rich upland towns of Quezon and Kasibu in the province.
Mario Ancheta, MGB regional director for Region 2, said the establishment of the Minahan ng Bayan is seen to put a halt to the operation of illegal small-scale mining which is identified as the culprit in the contamination of rivers in the province with the use of mercury.
”[The Minahan ng Bayan] establishment [will]serve as an alternative source of income for thousands of small-scale miners who have been and will be displaced by the demolition of modified ball mills in the operation of small-scale mining in the province,” Ancheta said.
In the villages of Runruno in Quezon town and Didipio and Alimit in Kasibu, illegal-small scale mining operations have been rampant but whose number have been reduced due to the entry of the large-scale mining companies such as OceanaGold Corp. and FCF Minerals Corp.
The Australian OceanaGold Didipio Project has started commercial operation in May while the British Runruno FCF Minerals Corp. is set to operate commercially in 2014.
”The Minahan ng Bayan is intended for the displaced small-scale miners and will be under the supervision of concerned local government units under the provincial mining board,” Ancheta said.
He said the bureau is very much concerned of the livelihood of the small scale miners
being displaced by the ongoing crackdown against their illegal operation and as a result of the entry of the national government-sanctioned large-scale mining companies.
”There is a need to regulate small-scale mining operations under the Minahan ng Bayan system particularly in the use of fatal substances and the use of illegal explosives,” Ancheta said.
According to Ancheta, the establishment of Minahan ng Bayan is mandated under President Aquino’s Executive Order 79, which provides guidelines for the operation of small-scale mining as a sustainable livelihood for residents in mineral-rich areas.
Leander C. Domingo