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MANILA, Philippines — The country’s mining industry has called on the government to take a tougher stance on

illegal mining operations in the country following the deaths of miners in Benguet due to landslides at the height of
Typhoon Ompong.

“Illegal small-scale minining does not employ the same stringent safety practices required of legitimate large-scale
mining operators,” the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said in a statement.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu issued an order stopping small-scale mining operations after at least 30 people
died in a landslide in Itogon, Benguet.

Benguet Corp., a member of COMP, clarified that the victims were part of the illegal gold mining activities near an
old abandoned bunkhouse of the company.

The area is a few kilometers away from the company’s Balatoc and Dalicno underground mines in Itogon.

In a separate regulatory filing with the Philippine Stock Exchange, Benguet said subsequent warnings and notices
for the small-scale miners to vacate the area were met with resistance and outright refusal.

“We issued notices to the small-scale miners who have occupied the old bunkhouse or put up shanties that the area
has been declared as geohazard by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and is unsafe for habitation,” the company
said.

Despite this, Benguet said it deployed rescue teams in partnership with the MGB-Cordillera to participate in the
search, rescue and retrieval operations in the areas affected.

Even Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp., which operates the Padcal mine in Benguet, also deployed rescue teams.

There were no reported casualties in the host mining communities of Benguet and Philex.

It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the gold mined in the country comes from unregulated small-scale
mining operations.

“Apart from endangering the lives of poor mining workers and destroying the environment, illegal small-scale
miners do not pay taxes and are the breeding ground of other social ills, such as child labor, prostitution, illegal
drugs, gun running, and use of banned toxic chemicals,” COMP said.

Last July, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources excluded small-scale mining in the moratorium on
new projects.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/business/2018/09/18/1852324/mining-group-wants-tougher-govt-stance-vs-


illegal-small-miners#Lxwcy3OYwgiH5i36.99
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 17) — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Monday said
he has ordered a stop to all small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Cimatu announced the development in a media briefing on Monday with Presidential Spokesperson Harry
Roque at the Provincial Capitol of La Trinidad, Benguet.

"In view of this current situation in the Cordilleras, to prevent further danger to the lives of small-scale
miners, I officially order cease and desist of all illegal small-scale mining operations in the whole of
Cordillera Administrative Region," Cimatu said.

"We ask our small-scale miners to cooperate and stop all small-scale mining activities here," he added.

Cimatu said the military and police will be deployed to the region to implement the order, especially in
Itogon town in Benguet, where rescuers retrieved at least 35 bodies that were buried in a landslide triggered by
Typhoon Ompong. The said municipality is known for its mining activities.

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan, meanwhile, said he wants to hold consultations with authorities before
the government implements the closure of small-scale mining.

"We should conduct first a technical conference before you will close any small-scale miners. Because
the local officials knows very well the situation of our small-scale miners," Palangdan said in the briefing.

"The retrieval search and rescue operations being conducted by the military. We are still conducting, and
as the secretary said, we will not stop until we recover all the bodies," the mayor added.

Meanwhile, the Benguet Corporation, which allegedly owns the abandoned mining site, said it previously
warned the small-scale miners to vacate the area.

"The persons affected are mostly small-scale miners (SSMs) who have been illegally operating in its
Antamok claims. Their unregulated mining activities are without permission of the company," the
company wrote in a statement.

"Subsequent warnings, and notices from the company for the SSMs to vacate the area were met with
resistance and outright refusal."

Relocation
Following implementation of the order, Cimatu said the next step will be for the miners to relocate, as
these sites are considered "very dangerous areas."

"The first phase is to stop (small-scale mining), second stage is to relocate them out of those very
dangerous areas because we have issued a geohazard map all over the country. Pinapakita doon yung
mga delikado kapag landslide, kasama ito, yung nangyari dito," Cimatu said.

[Translation: It's shown in the map the areas which could be dangerous especially during landslides. And
this area, what happened here, is included.]

The secretary also pointed out that majority of the miners in Benguet hail from other provinces, especially
from Ifugao. He said authorities are looking at the possibility of transferring them back to their
hometowns.
Roque said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will be mobilized for alternative
livelihood trainings for the miners who will be affected by the order.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines on Monday urged the government "to take a tougher stance
against illegal small-scale mining activities" following the reported casualties.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Ina Andolong and Digital Producer Alyssa Rola contributed to this report.

Illegal small-scale miners ask government to legalize their status

AUTHOR

Klaire Ting

DATE

October 05, 2018

SHARE


Unregulated small-scale miners are appealing to the government to help legalize their
status so they can continue operating under the state’s supervision and not face work
suspension, as what happened to the small-scale miners in the Cordillera region.

“I am asking this body to help convey to the government the desire of small-scale
miners to legalize their operations to help the government and our community,”
Rodrigo Belleza, President of Magkamatao Small-Scale Miners Association of
Camarines Norte, said during the 5th National Artisanal & Small-Scale Gold Mining
Summit in Quezon City last week.

Some participants in the Artisanal and small-scale gold mining summit answer
questions during the press conference. Photo by Klaire Ting

He was expressing the sentiments of illegal small-scale miners in three towns in


Camarines Norte – Paracale, Panganiban, and Labo – who are said to be experiencing
harassment because of their status.

Belleza’s appeal came more than a week after Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered a halt to the illegal small-
scale mining activities in the Cordillera Administrative Region following a massive
landslide that killed about 100 small-scale miners trapped in bunk houses in Itogon,
Benguet at the height of typhoon Ompong.

Just days after the Itogon disaster, a landslide also buried a residential area near a
quarry site in Naga city in Cebu, killing more than 70 people, prompting Cimatu to
suspend quarrying operations across the Philippines pending a review and assessment
of all quarry operations in the country.

There are hundreds of thousands of small miners all over the country and many of
them are operating illegally without permit from the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences
Bureau (MGB).

Speaking in Filipino, Belleza bewailed the stigma attached to illegal miners. “When
you say illegal, it connotes bad practice but the small miners are the ones who are
earning for others, for the family and for the government. Despite that, we are looked
upon negatively.”
He said mine workers in his province look up to the set-up in South Cotabato, where
small miners operate within the ‘Minahang Bayan’ (MB) or People's Small-Scale
Mining Area.

Minahang Bayan

A ‘minahang bayan’ is a specific area in a province declared and designated by the


MGB for small-scale mining activity that is regulated by local authorities.

“Small-scale mining should be in the Minahang Bayan,” said MGB Engr. Esteban
Martin. “A small-scale mining contract makes the mining legal,” he said during his
presentation at the summit held at the Sulu Riviera Hotel, adding that the MGB allows
gold, silver, and chromite as metallic mineral outputs for small-scale miners.

MGB Engr. Esteban Martin delivers speech on DENR efforts for concerns regarding
artisanal and small-scale mining. Photo by Klaire Ting.

Getting the contract ready is not an easy process as the documentary and other
requirements, including consent from the landowners or companies that have claims
over the area being applied for, are onerous, according to the DENR.

“We admit that it is not easy to get an MB,” Martin said. “What is happening now is
that we are only now declaring the establishment of more MBs to formalize small-
scale mining. That is why we are now less strict with penalties,” he explained.

“Only in 2016 did the concern of small-scale miners about not having a small-scale
contract surface. There were activities ongoing, but no contract. This is illegal or
informal,” he added.

“It’s easy to say if it’s illegal, it should be stopped. But stopping it won’t solve the
situation because the problem will only get bigger,” Martin explained.

Sarah Aviado, project manager of BAN Toxics Development Programme, agreed with
Martin’s position, adding that work stoppage will only create more problems.

“During the coalition’s meeting, we talked about how stopping is not the solution,”
she said. “It will only give birth to more problems. We need legalization, monitoring,
and unity.We need to have legal cooperation for the government to monitor SSMs.”
Regulate, legalize

During the summit, Vivencio P. Ocite, Jr., chief executive officer of VPO Mining in
Agusan del Sur, backed calls for the legalization of small-scale mining operations,
saying they boost local employment and economic activity. He also pushed for gold
rush areas to be part of ‘minahang bayan’.

He proposed an extension of the tenure of the regulated small-scale miners from the
existing two years, which he said, was too short and may result in miners going back
to their unregulated and dangerous operations.

Ocite raised the need for a new set of rules for medium-scale mining activities, as
existing regulations are no longer applicable to small-scale mines that have leveled up
their operations.

MGB’s Martin explained that the DENR has two approaches towards small-scale
mining: regulation and control.

In the Cordillera, where Cimatu ordered a stop to small-scale mining, workers are
seeking a reconsideration of the closure order.

Rescue operations in Itogon after the deadly September landslide. Photo by Redjie
Melvic Cawis Philippine Information Agency - Cordillera

The Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners, in a letter to the DENR secretary,


asked that government regulate, instead of ban, small-scale mining, saying the
livelihood is customary to the Cordillera.

The DENR has been fighting an uphill battle against illegal small-scale mining in the
northern region. According to department’s official website, Cimatu led the blasting
of 18 mine tunnels at Sitio Basa in Tuba, Benguet last February as an initial step in the
DENR’s bid to crack down on illegal activities in the country.

There are no ‘minahang bayan’ sites in the Cordillera so far, according to the DENR,
although there are pending applications to establish such areas, one of them in
Antamok, which is owned by Benguet Corp.
The abandoned mine has been the site of unregulated small-scale mining, where
dozens were buried when typhoon Ompong slammed the northern Philippines on
Sept. 15, causing deadly landslides.

There are over 20,000 small scale miners in the entire Benguet province, with Itogon
hosting 12,000.

This story is produced by VERA Files under a project supported by the Internews’
Earth Journalism Network, which aims to empower journalists from developing
countries to cover the environment more effectively.
HEADLINES

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Small-scale mining blamed


for destruction
By: Riza T. Olchondra, Tarra Quismundo - @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 03:27 AM July 04, 2011

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has dismissed claims its members
were destroying the environment and put the blame squarely on unregulated small-scale
mining and slash-and-burn farming methods.

Since the Mining Act of 1995, the government has strictly enforced adherence to
responsible mining and clearly delineated mining areas to preserve the environment, the
chamber said.
ADVERTISEMENT

On the other hand, while small-scale miners are supposed to be restricted to pick-and-
shovel operations, unscrupulous foreign investors were funding them to use equipment
and dynamite to dig deeper for ore.

The upshot is that legitimate mining companies that adhere to strict environmental
rules, among others, get the blame, chamber officials said.

The officials lauded President Benigno Aquino III for having recently asserted that the
government will not drive out large-scale mining operations since these are closely
monitored, unlike small-scale miners.
At the Mt. Diwalwal reservation in Compostela Valley, a local official, Tito Franco,
called on the government to legalize small-scale mining and warned of fighting
reminiscent of the gold rush in the “Wild Wild West” unless this was done.

“With government wanting to control everything, I fear that the wild days and the
killings and fighting in Diwalwal would happen again. We don’t mind if we have to
fight for our place here,” Franco said.

In a roundtable discussion at the Inquirer office on Thursday, COMP chair Artemio


Disini, Nickel Asia president-CEO Gerard H. Brimo and other chamber officials
stressed the need to resolve issues on small-scale mining purportedly allowed by local
government units.

“Are there illegal, small-scale miners in Palawan and other parts of the country. Most
likely. How many are they? We don’t know. They are unregulated, they don’t pay
taxes, they use harmful practices, and they are operating against the law,” Brimo said.

The officials said LGUs were even involved in these operations while campaigning
against legitimate mining operators.

Dummies
ADVERTISEMENT

They said that foreign metal traders, in an attempt to avoid rigorous mining
requirements, were using Filipino “dummies” in small-scale operations that in fact
extracted massive amounts using machinery and harmful chemicals.

The officials also pointed out that the Philippine government should check metal import
statistics from China and other countries and compare these with exports from the
Philippines in order to determine the extent of illegal mining in the country.

Replying to a campaign by civil society groups and some Church organizations in


Palawan, the chamber officials said that big-business mining had been complying with
stringent government requirements and rehabilitating mined-out areas in the province.
Brimo said unregulated activities such as slash-and-burn farming and illegal small-scale
mining had a greater environmental impact on Palawan’s natural resources.

He also said that in legitimate mining areas, companies build communities and schools
to educate natives.

“We don’t rape the land. We mine it, as others do all over the world, and after mining,
we rehabilitate. That’s what we do,” Brimo told Inquirer editors and reporters.

“The mining we do is no different from the mining done in other parts of the world. But
it’s very much attacked in the Philippines. I wonder why,” said Brimo, who has worked
in other large-scale mining firms and has been in the industry for 30 years.

‘Pure misinformation’

Brimo said claims of environmental abuse against the mining industry, of late by the
Save Palawan Movement, were “pure misinformation” and were “meant to mislead” the
public with its use of old data and photos of bad mining practices in the past.

He said such information “had no relevance to the mining debate” of today, with the
industry thoroughly scrutinized by government and strictly compliant with the mining
law, particularly the requirement to rehabilitate mined-out areas embodied in the
Mining Act of 1995.

Brimo said big mining operations should be measured by the 1995 yardstick.

Only three large-scale nickel mining operations continue in Palawan—Berong Nickel,


Rio Tuba Nickel and Citinickel—and all undergo regular monitoring by the
government, he said.

He added that mining operations did not compromise primary forest and protected areas
in Palawan, as mining is done in areas where the soil is rich with laterite nickel.

“One can’t make the case that Palawan is 100-percent biodiverse. That is not true.
Biodiversity is in areas in northern Palawan,” Brimo said.
Debunking the argument that mining affected food security, he said areas mined were
“not fit for intensive agriculture” as highly mineralized soil only allows the growth of
grass and “stunted shrubs.”

Reforestation

Brimo said mining firms also replanted trees to reforest mined-out areas, even leaving
mined-out areas with vegetation “better than the environment when we found it.”

For instance, in the town of Bataraza in Palawan, Rio Tuba mining has reforested 238
hectares of mined-out land, replanting almost 800,000 trees. Brimo said the firm also
documented wildlife that reestablished habitat in the mining areas.

In a joint statement, the Philippines-Australia Business Council, the Australia-


Philippines Business Council, the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce and
the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry have joined calls on the government
to act decisively on activities of illegal miners.

“The proliferation of small-scale mining has adversely affected the mining industry and
has alarmed companies that religiously comply with health, safety and environmental
rules and regulations with several doing more than compliance,” the groups said.

The business groups said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should
be in charge even of small-scale mining until local government units have attained the
technical competence to deal with mining operations.

Wild West scenario

Franco, a barangay chair at the Diwalwal Mineral Reservation, said small-mining


operations should be legalized and not left to the discretion of LGUs.

He said the “Wild Wild West” scenario in Diwalwal during the gold rush in the 1980s
had given way to more sophisticated extraction methods as traders bought even very
small amounts of gold and the small operators prospered.
Franco said miners in Diwalwal had even proposed to pay a 15-percent tax out of their
gross gold production if only the government would allow them to operate legally.

“The government should just let us keep digging. We’ve been here before government
came in, before the multinationals started getting interested. We know what to do,”
Franco said.

Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/20971/small-scale-mining-blamed-for-


destruction#ixzz5TrdwCssC
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Small-scale mining blamed for destruction

By: Riza T. Olchondra, Tarra Quismundo - @inquirerdotnet


Philippine Daily Inquirer / 03:27 AM July 04, 2011

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has dismissed claims its members were destroying the environment
and put the blame squarely on unregulated small-scale mining and slash-and-burn farming methods.
Since the Mining Act of 1995, the government has strictly enforced adherence to responsible mining and clearly
delineated mining areas to preserve the environment, the chamber said.

ADVERTISEMENT

On the other hand, while small-scale miners are supposed to be restricted to pick-and-shovel operations, unscrupulous
foreign investors were funding them to use equipment and dynamite to dig deeper for ore.

The upshot is that legitimate mining companies that adhere to strict environmental rules, among others, get the blame,
chamber officials said.

The officials lauded President Benigno Aquino III for having recently asserted that the government will not drive out
large-scale mining operations since these are closely monitored, unlike small-scale miners.

At the Mt. Diwalwal reservation in Compostela Valley, a local official, Tito Franco, called on the government to
legalize small-scale mining and warned of fighting reminiscent of the gold rush in the “Wild Wild West” unless this
was done.

“With government wanting to control everything, I fear that the wild days and the killings and fighting in Diwalwal
would happen again. We don’t mind if we have to fight for our place here,” Franco said.

In a roundtable discussion at the Inquirer office on Thursday, COMP chair Artemio Disini, Nickel Asia president-CEO
Gerard H. Brimo and other chamber officials stressed the need to resolve issues on small-scale mining purportedly
allowed by local government units.

“Are there illegal, small-scale miners in Palawan and other parts of the country. Most likely. How many are they? We
don’t know. They are unregulated, they don’t pay taxes, they use harmful practices, and they are operating against the
law,” Brimo said.

The officials said LGUs were even involved in these operations while campaigning against legitimate mining
operators.

Dummies

ADVERTISEMENT

They said that foreign metal traders, in an attempt to avoid rigorous mining requirements, were using Filipino
“dummies” in small-scale operations that in fact extracted massive amounts using machinery and harmful chemicals.
The officials also pointed out that the Philippine government should check metal import statistics from China and other
countries and compare these with exports from the Philippines in order to determine the extent of illegal mining in the
country.

Replying to a campaign by civil society groups and some Church organizations in Palawan, the chamber officials said
that big-business mining had been complying with stringent government requirements and rehabilitating mined-out
areas in the province.

Brimo said unregulated activities such as slash-and-burn farming and illegal small-scale mining had a greater
environmental impact on Palawan’s natural resources.

He also said that in legitimate mining areas, companies build communities and schools to educate natives.

“We don’t rape the land. We mine it, as others do all over the world, and after mining, we rehabilitate. That’s what we
do,” Brimo told Inquirer editors and reporters.

“The mining we do is no different from the mining done in other parts of the world. But it’s very much attacked in the
Philippines. I wonder why,” said Brimo, who has worked in other large-scale mining firms and has been in the industry
for 30 years.

‘Pure misinformation’

Brimo said claims of environmental abuse against the mining industry, of late by the Save Palawan Movement, were
“pure misinformation” and were “meant to mislead” the public with its use of old data and photos of bad mining
practices in the past.

He said such information “had no relevance to the mining debate” of today, with the industry thoroughly scrutinized by
government and strictly compliant with the mining law, particularly the requirement to rehabilitate mined-out areas
embodied in the Mining Act of 1995.

Brimo said big mining operations should be measured by the 1995 yardstick.

Only three large-scale nickel mining operations continue in Palawan—Berong Nickel, Rio Tuba Nickel and
Citinickel—and all undergo regular monitoring by the government, he said.

He added that mining operations did not compromise primary forest and protected areas in Palawan, as mining is done
in areas where the soil is rich with laterite nickel.
“One can’t make the case that Palawan is 100-percent biodiverse. That is not true. Biodiversity is in areas in northern
Palawan,” Brimo said.

Debunking the argument that mining affected food security, he said areas mined were “not fit for intensive agriculture”
as highly mineralized soil only allows the growth of grass and “stunted shrubs.”

Reforestation

Brimo said mining firms also replanted trees to reforest mined-out areas, even leaving mined-out areas with vegetation
“better than the environment when we found it.”

For instance, in the town of Bataraza in Palawan, Rio Tuba mining has reforested 238 hectares of mined-out land,
replanting almost 800,000 trees. Brimo said the firm also documented wildlife that reestablished habitat in the mining
areas.

In a joint statement, the Philippines-Australia Business Council, the Australia-Philippines Business Council, the
Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry have joined
calls on the government to act decisively on activities of illegal miners.

“The proliferation of small-scale mining has adversely affected the mining industry and has alarmed companies that
religiously comply with health, safety and environmental rules and regulations with several doing more than
compliance,” the groups said.

The business groups said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should be in charge even of small-
scale mining until local government units have attained the technical competence to deal with mining operations.

Wild West scenario

Franco, a barangay chair at the Diwalwal Mineral Reservation, said small-mining operations should be legalized and
not left to the discretion of LGUs.

He said the “Wild Wild West” scenario in Diwalwal during the gold rush in the 1980s had given way to more
sophisticated extraction methods as traders bought even very small amounts of gold and the small operators prospered.

Franco said miners in Diwalwal had even proposed to pay a 15-percent tax out of their gross gold production if only the
government would allow them to operate legally.
“The government should just let us keep digging. We’ve been here before government came in, before the
multinationals started getting interested. We know what to do,” Franco said.

Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/20971/small-scale-mining-blamed-for-destruction#ixzz5TrRf707j


Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has announced the creation of Task Force
Mining Challenge to stop the rampant illegal small-scale mining in gold-rich areas in the
country, following a deadly landslide that killed dozens of small-scale miners at a mining
site in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet, during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong
recently.

A backhoe lies on its side as it fell while working on


the site of a landslide where victims were believed to have been buried after Typhoon Ompong barreled
across Itogon, Benguet, September 17, 2018. Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said that at the height of
the typhoon’s onslaught, dozens of people, mostly miners and their families, rushed into an old three-
story building in the village of Ucab. The building, a former mining bunkhouse that had been
transformed into a chapel, was obliterated when part of a mountain slope collapsed.

Admitting that illegal small-scale mining is widespread in gold-rich areas, Cimatu vowed
to intensify the campaign against “irresponsible” mining and enforce tighter regulation of
the largely unregulated gold mining activity.
The DENR chief, however, said he is not keen on imposing a total ban, saying such will
deprive tens of thousands of artisanal small-scale gold miners.

“It is the livelihood of small miners. I am not against small-scale mining, but we need to
regulate mining,” Cimatu told reporters during a news conference on Wednesday.

Revenue generating
Instead, Cimatu vowed to legalize the sector by establishing more Minahang Bayan where
small-scale mining activities are robust, such as in the Cordillera region, and generate
revenues both for the national government and local government units (LGUs).

The Task Force Mining Challenge, he said, is tasked to stop illegal small-scale mining
activities. The police and military will also be tapped as the task force’s enforcement arm.

“We will legalize and properly supervise small-scale mining, including tax collection,”
Cimatu said.

‘Biggies’
The DENR chief, however, said it does not escape his attention that large-scale mining
companies, likewise, operate using heavy equipment, including backhoes, dump truck,
pay loaders and conveyors, and are “pretending” to be small scale.

“Some of the holes [entry point of a tunnel] are so big that a truck can get in to haul
[ores]. They also have conveyors,” Cimatu said.

The official said LGUs that tolerate illegal small-scale mining will also be investigated, as
he was informed that some local officials are also into the business of small-scale mining.

There are two mining laws in the Philippines.


Large-scale mining is covered by Republic Act 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of
1995, while small-scale mining is covered by RA 7076, or the People’s Small-scale Mining
Act of 1991.

Large-scale mining is regulated by the DENR, through the Mines and Geosciences
Bureau (MGB), while small-scale mining is regulated by LGUs through the Provincial
Mining Regulatory Boards (PMRB).

At the Mining Philippines 2018 Conference and Exhibition on Wednesday night, Cimatu
stated, “[I] will do [my] homework” and study the mining laws, adding he was aware of
the sentiments of large-scale mining operators as the sector was put into bad light anew
because of the Itogon incident.

Cimatu said that he promised local officials in Benguet to fast-track the processing of the
application for a Minahang Bayan in the Cordillera that is compliant with environment
and mining laws.

Out of control
To recall, the conference’s organizer, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP),
led by its chairman Gerard H. Brimo, the chief executive officer of Nickel Asia Corp.,
called on the DENR to take a tougher stance against illegal small-scale mining.

In an interview with reporters at the sideline of the event, Brimo expressed dismay that
the incident is being blamed on large-scale mining.

He said the already heavily regulated and taxed large-scale mining should be spared from
what he described as “out of control” illegal small-scale mining activities and that the
government can do more by strictly enforcing the law.

“We at the chamber are not against small scale. They have their purpose. But small-scale
miners are really out of control,” Brimo said.
He also suggested that the government should look into properly regulating the sector
and generate much-needed revenues, instead of imposing new and additional
“punishing” taxes to large-scale mining companies.

Under Executive Order 79, small-scale mining should be done in designated Minahang
Bayan identified by the PMRB and approved by the DENR-MGB.

According to MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano, as far as the DENR is concerned, there
are only eight Minahang Bayan in the country. However, he said, there are a dozen locally
declared Minahang Bayan.

He said the DENR-MGB is currently processing more than 100 Minahang Bayan
applications, even as there are at least 200,000 illegal small-scale miners all over the
country.

Largely unregulated, small-scale gold mining used to comprise 75 percent of the country’s
annual gold output.

Prior to 2010, before the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue—
through the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)—decided to strictly collect the 2-percent
excise tax on gold sales in small-scale mining, the country’s gold production value
attributed to small-scale mining reached up to P40 billion.

Today, gold production value attributed to small-scale mining is less than P1 billion,
Moncano revealed.

He said he is also not keen on recommending a nationwide ban on small-scale mining,


saying it will deprive small-scale miners the access to the country’s natural wealth.
A grim wait for dozens of people still missing continues, after super Typhoon
Mangkhut tore through the Philippines, burying dozens of people under a
massive landslide.

At least 81 people have been killed and the death toll continues to rise.

Recovery operations are under way but they are proving extremely difficult,
especially in a region where infrastructure has always been a major challenge.

Decades of unrestrained mining has made many areas of this mountain-range


precarious and dangerous, leading environmental activists blaming the illegal
mining for the landslides.

Al Jazeera's Jamela Alingogan reports from Itogon, decades of unrestrained


mining has made these tragedies all too common.

Philippine officials are calling for a review of mining activities in the


country’s mountains.

The investigation was ordered after two deadly landslides struck hillside
communities where mines were operating.

Both landslides came after a powerful storm hit the Philippines on September
15. Officials say Typhoon Mangkhut killed more than 80 people nationwide.

The first landslide was in the northern mining town of Itogon. It happened
shortly after the typhoon struck. The Itogon landslide buried about 60 people,
most of them miners and their family members.

Philippine officials said the landslide affected an area where a gold mine was
operating illegally. Illegal mining can weaken hillsides, increasing the chance
of landslides, they said. People living near the gold mine ignored warnings
from police and disaster officials to leave the area before the storm hit.
A second landslide struck in the central province of Cebu on September 20. It
affected two villages, burying 30 homes. Local officials said more than 20
people were killed. The area was near several mining operations.

The typhoon did not reach Cebu, but caused heavy rain across much of the
Philippines.

After the first tragedy, Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu said the
government would begin deploying soldiers and police to six mountain
provinces. He said the move was aimed at reviewing the safety of mining
activities and ending illegal operations.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte also called for investigations into the
dangers of mining.

“We have a problem with the mining industry,” Duterte said in a statement on
his official website. “It has not contributed anything substantial to the
national economy.”

The president added that the mining industry was operating “uncontrolled”
and had hurt the economy. “That mining thing has really contributed a lot
of heartaches for the Filipino people,” he said.

Antonio Contreras is a political scientist at De La Salle University in the


Philippines. He says the government had learned from earlier disasters how to
better prepare for powerful storms. This time, he said, officials were “very
ready” and took more “systematic” steps to get people out of dangerous areas
before the typhoon.

People seek temporary shelter at an evacuation center after fleeing their homes following a
landslide that buried dozens of homes in Naga city, Cebu province, central Philippines on
Thursday Sept. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
About 150,000 people were already in temporary shelters when Typhoon
Mangkhut hit. Officials say this helped to keep the number of deaths low. Five
years ago, a powerful typhoon killed 6,200 in the Philippines.

Contreras says most of the criticism after the storm has been directed at the
nation’s mining industry. Some people have blamed mining operations for
causing openings on hillsides that may have caused the landslides after heavy
rains.

Herman Kraft is a political science professor at the University of the


Philippines Diliman in Manila. He says he thinks the government should have
done a better job enforcing orders for people to leave.

There should be a point “where you don’t give them any choice anymore,”
Kraft said.

On the mining issue, Kraft said Duterte and others are seeking an
investigation into how mining operations are affecting local communities.
“The question that’s being raised now is the extent to which mining
companies have actually undermined the land,” he said.

I’m Bryan Lynn.