The government has declared two Minahang Bayan (MB) areas in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) covering a combined mining area of 50 hectares.
In two separate announcements, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in CAR said that the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board of Abra (PMRB-Abra) recently declared the first-ever MB area in Abra almost four years since its application with the government was lodged.
A month prior to this, PMRB of Benguet Province also signed a resolution declaring an MB in Tuba, Benguet.
An MB is an area in the Philippines where small-scale mining (SSM) operations can legally operate.
As of December 2020, there are 31 approved MB areas in the country covering 3,926.89 hectares, data from MGB showed.
This doesn’t yet include the recently approved MBs including the one in Bangued, Abra, which was the first MB to be declared in the province.
It was just in June when PMRB-Abra, chaired by the MGB-CAR Regional Director Fay Apil, signed Resolution No. 1 series of 2021 declaring the applied area of Ag-Agit Small Scale Mining and Multipurpose Cooperative, Inc. (ASSMMCI) as an MB.
The application of ASSMMCI covers an area of 20 hectares located in Sitio Ag-Agit, Barangay Mapisla, in the Municipality of Licuan-Baay.
MGB-CAR said the long-awaited declaration of the MB of ASSMMCI started with their application in October 2017.
Meanwhile, PMRB of Benguet Province also signed a resolution in May declaring an MB in Tuba. The resolution refers to the MB application of Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners’ Association Inc. (BFSSMAI) covering an area of 31.25 hectares located in Sitio Camp 6, Barangay Camp 4 in the municipality of Tuba.
BFSSMAI, formerly Camp 6 Explorers’ Small-scale Miners’ Association, Inc. (CESSMAI), filed their first MB application in 2013 but it was not approved. Later in September 2018, the said application was again filed.
“After submission of all the required documents and a thorough evaluation by the MGB Central Office, in April 2021, the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Roy A. Cimatu, issued the clearance to declare the said area an MB,” MGB-CAR said.
“They are now working on the requirements for the awarding of a Small-Scale Mining Contract which will allow them to proceed with their SSM operations,” it added.
In 2019, MGB decided to improve the regulation of SSM operations in the country by imposing stricter conditions on the disposal of their residual stockpiles.
This directive from MGB was implemented through Department Administrative Order 2019-19 (DAO 2019-19), which is meant to speed up the environmental restoration both during and after mining operations by an MB.
“We understand the negative view of mining, but we want the public to know that mining is not the same as it was before the Mining Act of 1995,” MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano said in an earlier report.
“The MGB is always working to improve the regulations on mining, to safeguard environmental protection, and protect the community,” he added.