Issue of November 3, 2019
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MGB, city board discover small scale mining persists in Baguio
by JMS / PIO

SMALL-SCALE MINE SITE INSPECTION -- The Mines and Geosciences Bureau, together with representatives from the city government and non-government organizations, inspected small-scale mining sites in Uabac, Camp 7; Kias and Atok Trail on Wednesday. The result of the ocular inspection will be submitted to Mayor Benjamin Magalong as basis whether or not to reconstitute the City Mining Regulatory Board. -- Neil Clark Ongchangco

Authorities have discovered that small scale mining operations are still held in the city.

In an ocular inspection on Oct. 30, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the City Mining Regulatory Board (CMRB) found several adits in small scale mining areas in Sitio Uabac, Camp 7 operated by individual miners, 13 adits in Barangay Kias operated by Emerald SSM Multipurpose Cooperative, and some old adits in Atok Trail.

In Camp 7, the CMRB observed the lack of tailings treatment facilities and waste management. While some of the mining areas have ceased operations, some continue to dig and take out rocks believed to have gold.

In Kias and Atok Trail, miners have ceased their operation and are awaiting the update from CMRB if they can continue their livelihood.

MGB-Cordillera Director Faye Apil said the CMRB scheduled the ocular inspection after receiving complaints of SSM operations in the city despite the mining ban issued by Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu.

Their findings will be submitted to Mayor Benjamin Magalong as basis in reconstituting the CMRB.

While the CMRB has not been formally reconstituted, Apil said SSM operations will not be allowed.

After the inspection, the MGB and the CMRB technical working group held a dialogue with over 100 miners in Atok Trail.

Atty. Leoncio Na-oy, SSM representative to the CMRB, hopes that guidelines will be crafted to eventually allow mining as a livelihood in areas where such activity has been existing.
They committed to practice responsible mining.

The miners asked for a time-frame for them to resume their livelihood, but Apil said a lot of issues have to be addressed first, particularly the re-constitution of the CMRB and if the city government officials would allow SSM in Baguio.

“We will request the city to provide additional TWG members and for them to validate the result of our ocular inspection. There is also need to determine if existing mining areas are suitable as residential area or if SSM activities may be allowed,” Apil said.

“If we cannot use these lands for residential then we might as well use it for mining,” Apil said.

She also supports mining tourism as an alternative livelihood for miners.

In Atok Trail, Punong Barangay Federico Codley said before DENR stopped mining, they used to implement a mining tourism activity where they bring students and pupils to existing mine sites and let them experience the actual process of mining.

The CMRB hopes to be able to submit their report before the end of November and seek an audience with the mayor and the city council before Dec. 15.

CMRB non-government organization representative Julie Cabato also requested the miners to prepare their hazard maps and to complete their documents for permit processing.

As per MGB record, Camp 7 has a mining area of 4.9 hectares, 1.5 hectares in Atok Trail, 4.6 hectares in Kias.

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