IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay -- The newly-reconstituted Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) mulled to suspend all operations for small-scale mining in Zamboanga Sibugay.

The board, chaired by Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau-Zamboanga Peninsula Director Alfredo Relampagos, had reviewed all sand and gravel applications, policies on small-scale mining, ordinances on mining from the local government units, and nominations of non-government and mining sector representatives in a meeting held February 3 at the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office.

Governor Wilter Palma, vice-chair of the mining body, said it is a good thing for the PMRB to have held its first meeting after it was re-constituted.

"There is a need for the Provincial Government to review its policies on mining especially on small-scale," the governor told Sunstar Philippines.

Dozens of small-scale mining operations proliferate in the province. It was not ascertained, however, whether these operations were situated in a declared Minahan ng Bayan zone.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Administrative Order 2015-03, which is the implementing rules and regulations of People's Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991, mandates that "no small-scale mining shall be undertaken outside a Minahang Bayan and that no entity shall engage in small-scale mining without a small-scale mining contract."

The order also mandated that "all persons undertaking or intending to undertake small-scale mining shall register as small-scale miners" with the PMRB.

Palma said it is important for the province to determine who and where these small-scale operations are, so that "we will know how what we can do."

Relampagos said the PMRB, as mandated by law, will make things easier for the provincial chief executive when it comes to reviewing all policies and applications for quarrying sand and gravel, especially in the mining sector.

It was not known, however, when the planned suspension of all operations and applications for small-scale mining will take effect. (SunStar Philippines)