By Rjhay E. Laurea
MANILA — Toxics watchdog BAN Toxics (BT) is now pushing to legalize artisanal and small-scale mining, believing that this is the only way to monitor and protect small-scale mining communities whose working conditions can not be determined due to its underground operations.
At present, small-scale mining outside the “Minahang Bayan” is prohibited in the Philippines as stated in Republic Act 7076 or the “People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991”.
“We call for the formalization of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector to improve the working and occupational safety and health conditions of all the miners,” says Gil Indino, chairperson of the National Coalition of Small-Scale Miners in the Philippines (NCSSMP).
“It is high time for the Philippines to prioritize the protection of small-scale mining communities,” he added.
Indino’s statement was seconded by Arleen Honrade, secretary of NCSSMP and an officer of BAN Toxics who is among the persons in-charge of the group’s monitoring and evaluation.
“The effect of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (in the Philippines), the main anthropogenic source of mercury emissions and releases worldwide, remains unknown due to the sector’s informality and illegality,” Honrade said.
“The legalization of the sector will not only help protect mine workers and mining community members but also the environment from the adverse effects of mercury,” she further explained.
NCSSMP is an alliance of small-scale mining associations nationwide that promotes responsible mining through the formalization of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector in the country.
Their organization will be convening for their third assembly on July 28 – 30, 2022, in Villa Silvina Hotel and Restaurant in Baguio City. Hosted by the Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners, the theme of the third assembly is “Pag-usad ng Responsableng Maliitang Pagmimina sa New Normal.” (ai/mtvn)