Pact to prevent small-scale gold miners from polluting sought

THE Philippines has proposed to work with other Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member-economies for the development of mobile modular gold-processing and waste-treatment plants for the country’s small-scale gold mining sector.

The development of modular gold- processing and waste-treatment plants will help improve artisanal and small-scale gold mining through better gold-purification process, and, at the same time, help prevent dumping of toxic waste that end up in rivers and other water bodies, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Assistant Director Elmer B. Billedo said.

MGB Director Leo Jasareno, however, said that the establishment of Minahang Bayan and processing plants within the Minahang Bayan areas in accordance with the guidelines set by President Aquino’s Executive Order 79, remain as the agency’s top priority to address illegal small-scale mining operations.

“We need to first establish a Minahang Bayan and then a processing plant within the Minahang Bayan. This will address the pollution problem caused by small-scale mining,” he said.

The use of hazardous substances, such as mercury and cyanide, has been identified as a major concern in artisanal and small-scale gold mining because of the contamination of water bodies in many areas, including the Philippines, where small-scale miners use mercury and cyanide in their operation.

The use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale mining has been banned by the Aquino administration through Executive Order 79 issued on on July 6, 2012, but many small-scale miners still use it because it is easier than other known methods, such as the Benguet way or gravity method that makes use of the traditional process of separating the gold from other minerals using borax.

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining was brought up by a representative from the US during the Mining Task Force (MTF) Meetings of the Apec group during the Senior Officials Meeting 3 in Cebu City, hosted by the MGB from August 24 to 28, during which Billedo who was one of the participants made the recommendation.

The MTF Meetings consisted of the MTF Workshop, the Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) and the ninth MTF Meeting.

According to Billedo, the development of modular plants, through collaboration for technology transfer and possibly, financing under a public-private partnership (PPP) program, will complement the establishment of Minahang Bayan in various parts of the country as mandated by law.

“The use of mobile modular plants has been tested in Africa and Australia and there’s a technology that can help improve small-scale miners separate the gold from other minerals better,” he said. During the Apec meetings, Rodrigo Urquiza of Chile, the current chairman of the MTF, was reelected, while Billedo was the cochairman, the Philippines being the host economy, according to the MGB web site.

The MTF workshop, initiated by the Australian government, was conducted to bring together key stakeholders involved in the mining sector within the Apec economies.

It aims to develop a stream of high quality, commercially relevant and private sector involved, capacity-building projects that would support the range of issues or reform measures that could help enhance business activities relating to the mining sector.

The PPD was a follow-up to the first Mining PPD held in Beijing in 2014. It served as a venue for representatives from mining companies to share their perspectives on a range of issues identified in Apec Business Advisory Council’s (Abac) 2014 study on the Asia-Pacific mining sector.

Among the issues discussed were transparent and predictable fiscal-tax regimes, community development efforts, the importance of regulatory consistency and effective investment policies. The discussion was designed to provide officials with suggestions on the types of capacity-building projects that would help improve the business and investment environment on the mining sector.

The ninth MTF Meeting was a continuation of the discussions on the Asia-Pacific mining sector. With close to 75 percent of all global mining trade and investment being conducted within the Apec Region, mineral and metal industries are considered of great importance to the Apec region.

Among the topics discussed were current developments in the Mining Task Force; key mining developments in the Apec economies; the status of the MTF (since it has a current life until end of 2016 only); 2015 Work Plan; 2014-2015 Strategic Plan; and Abac report and recommendations.

The MTF was established in 2007 after the endorsement of the APEC Ministers. The MTF derives its mandate from priorities set by APEC Leaders and from the directions provided by Ministers Responsible for Mining.  It is composed of policy officials and experts who work with experts in government and academia, private industry, and regional and international organizations.



1 comment

  1. These small scale miners are the pest, why the responsible mining firms are getting the beating of a lifetime taxes, Responsible mining firms are now stained by their doings and now PPP and PPD are trying to aid the lost and damages they left right after get what they want which is way beyond what responsible mining firms does. Responsible mining firms build roads, buildings, infrastructure and most definitely help their host community.

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