Issue of March 12, 2017
     
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Village in Itogon pilots use of ‘green’ ore processing plant
by Ofelia C. Empian

ECO-FRIENDLY PROCESSING PLANT -- Science and Technology Sec. Fortunato de la Peña and Itogon, Benguet Mayor Victorio Palangdan lead the ribbon cutting rites and turnover of the integrated gold-copper mineral processing plant to the Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners Association in Gumatdang, Itogon, Benguet on Friday. The plant, which is expected to improve gold production, is designed to aid small-scale miners recover gold in an efficient and safe manner without the use of mercury and cyanide as opposed to the traditional way of gold recovery employing this harmful chemicals. -- Ofelia Empian

 

 

A gold processing plant that employs an environment friendly technology was turned over to a federation of small-scale miners in Itogon, Friday.

The plant, called “integrated gold-copper mineral processing” is now under the supervision of the Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners Association  (BFSSM) following the signing of the memorandum of agreement between the stakeholders including the Department of Science and Technology, municipal and provincial local government units and other concerned agencies.

The University of the Philippines developed the techno-logy, which is piloted at Barangay Gumatdang, Itogon.

The technology, funded by the DOST, is seen to develop a responsible, safe and efficient small-scale mining industry in the country, according to project leader Dr. Herman D. Mendoza of University of the Philippines Diliman.

The technology was developed to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals such as mercury and cyanide and will increase the recovery of gold (from the ore) from the usual 40 to 70 percent, to as high as 80 to 90 percent recovery rate.

The mineral processing plant also aims to recover other minerals such as copper, lead, and zinc from the gold ore, which are not attained by using the usual method of cyanidation and amalgamation with the use of mercury.

“The challenge now is to convince people to use it, we intended the technology to be user-friendly so the small-scale miners can run it by themselves,” said Mendoza. 

Mendoza said the project involves a process called “enhanced gravity-floatation-hypochloride bleaching stage precipitation process” enabling it to not use hazardous chemicals. The process is derived from the traditional method of extracting gold from the ore.

DOST Sec. Fortunato de la Peña said the project is very relevant to the small-scale miners, adding the technology also boosts human resource not only in Itogon but also the students of UP Diliman, who were able to learn from the process of building the plant.

BFSSMI President Lomino Kaniteng said the federation would endeavor to spread the technology to its members in the province.

He said they would still meet with their members to plan for the management and operation of the processing plant. Initially, they plan to rent out the plant to their member associations, with members who also underwent training previously.

The federation presently has 20,000 members from all over Benguet.

The plant is the first of its kind and is the pilot area for the Philippines. Mendoza said three others are being built in Camariñes Norte, Agusan del Norte and in Compostela Valley.

De la Peña said they are willing to replicate the technology in other areas of Benguet as long as the provincial government will provide a counterpart such as a building where the plant will be installed.


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