Issue of February 3, 2019

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PMRB okays small-scale mine operations for six months
by Ofelia C. Empian

The Provincial Mining Regulatory Board of Benguet has recently approved a guideline that will allow small-scale miners with pending petitions for a minahang bayan to operate the respective area through a temporary mining permit.

The PMRB, in its guideline, said the temporary small-scale mining permit shall cover a period of six months to “qualified small-scale miners/operators/associations/cooperative within an area applied for declaration of people’s small-scale mining area or minahang bayan” in Benguet.

Further, the small-scale mining operation should have been in existence before Aug. 1, 1987 and that the applicant should be duly registered with the PMRB-Benguet, a member of the indigenous peoples in the area, and a resident in the area applied for. 

The PMRB backed the guideline with a resolution adopting Guideline 002, s. of 2019, citing Sec. 23 of Republic Act 7076, which “provides that small-scale miners who have been in actual operation of mineral lands on or before Aug. 1, 1987 as determined by the board shall not be dispossessed, ejected or removed from said areas.”

This is as long as they comply with the provisions in the guidelines, according to the PMRB.

The PMRB said the guideline was crafted in response to the clamor of the small-scale miners. Benguet has an estimate of 60,000 small-scale miners. 

“The board received petitions by various small-scale miners for the lifting of the stoppage order against them, in order for them to have a source of livelihood and survive the hardship of life,” the PMRB stated.

With the newly declared 65-hectare minahang bayan in Itogon, Benguet, a mining group is allowed to apply for a maximum of 20 hectares per mining contract.

The DENR said only 1,000 small scale miners are allowed to mine in a 20-hectare area.

“Small-scale mining has been a livelihood of majority of the people of the Benguet province since time immemorial. It has been stopped September 2018, thereby depriving these small-scale miners of their basic source of livelihood,” the resolution read.

The PMRB also approved the guidelines on the application for a small-scale mining contract for the approved minahang bayan as well as the guideline on securing the small-scale mining license.

The small-scale mining contract, which applies for minahang bayan areas declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, is valid for two years.

The small-scale mining license, meanwhile, is one of the mandatory requirements for all small-scale miners prior to their operation.

The PMRB, after its meeting on Jan. 25, has since opened the application for the temporary small-scale mining permit.

Copies of the guidelines and the resolution were forwarded to DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu through Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Wilfredo Moncano as well as to concerned local government units in Benguet for their information and guidance.

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