The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued DENR Administrative Order No. 2019-19 on November 18, 2019 in an effort to strengthen the regulation of small-scale mining operations. The new directive focuses on monitoring undisposed residual stockpiles outside mining sites.
According to MGB Director Atty. Wilfredo G. Moncano, the main purpose of the new policy, DAO 2019-19 is to ensure environmental restoration during and after mining operations of a Minahang Bayan in the shortest time possible. A Minahang Bayan or People’s Small-Scale Mining is a cooperative of small-scale miners organized in a certain area or region and regulated by the government through Republic Act 7076.
With the issuance of DAO 2019-19, the government aims to enforce stricter conditions on the disposal of residual stockpiles or ores extracted from previous operations but were not yet disposed of during the term of the mining contract.
Small-scale mine operators are required to submit an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) that states their environmental management objectives and commitment to protect and rehabilitate the disturbed area during their disposition of residual stockpiles.
MGB Director Moncano says that mining there has always been a negative view of mining but that so much has changed with the Mining Act of 1995 establishing standards on the conduct of mining.
There is a continuous effort to improve the policies regulating the mining industry and the aim is always to ensure environmental protection, and uphold the welfare of the host and neighboring community, Moncano added.
For small-scale mining, there has been steps to improve its regulation such as incentivizing legal small-scale mining operations and the fast-tracking of application processes for various licenses. The government also waived the excise and income taxes for small-scale mining operations to encourage the illegal operators to become legal, hence, adhere to environment and safety standards.
In April this year, the MGB facilitated a project funded by the Global Environment Facility valued at over USD 11.7 million to eradicate the use of mercury in small-scale gold mining operations.
The MGB recently kicked off an information and education campaign to promote responsible mining. Dubbed #MineResponsibility, the campaign aims to educate the public on the regulation of mining as a shared responsibility and to promote responsible mining practices. This campaign will capture the efforts and commitment of the government in upholding the safety of people and the environment in mining. (DENR-MGB/MGB-6)