A SMALL-SCALE mining (SSM) contract was finally granted to an association in the Cordillera Administration Region, and government officials considered this a victory to the small-scale mining sector.
The Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) of Benguet passed on April 23 a resolution awarding an SSM contract to Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association (Lipma), the first contract granted in the region.
"This is a historical and triumphant day. We were able to approve a resolution by PMRB Benguet of the SSM contract between Lipma and the government of the Philippines," said Fay Apil, PMRB-Benguet chair and Mines Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Cordillera director.
Small-scale miners present during the special meeting thanked the PMRB members for the approval.
PMRB-Benguet earlier approved the Minahang Bayan application of Lipma prior to the consent given by the Benguet Mining Corporation of their patented mining area in Antamok. This covers a total of 64 hectares.
Apil said Lipma complied with the requirements, including the environmental protection and enhancement program, and community development plan, among others.
She said out of the certificate of non-overlap by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Lipma applied 15 hectares of mining area for their centralized processing area.
Benguet Small-Scale Miners Federation president Lomino Kaniteng said this is a victory among small-scale miners despite the very tedious requirements set by several government agencies.
Kaniteng said out of the 64 hectares declared as minahang bayan last year, each SSM contract applicant is only allowed to apply a maximum of 20 hectares and a minimum of 1.25 hectares.
"It doesn't mean that the 64 hectares all belong to Lipma. Every qualified miners can apply for contract," he said.
The SSM contract is effective for two years and renewable for another two years provided they comply with all the requirements.
Both Apil and Kaniteng said Lipma still need to obtain an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Environmental Management Bureau. The PMRB assured the association, though, that it will get the SSM contract, which is a requirement for miners to legally mine.
The PMRB said the official signing of the SSM contract is eyed to be conducted in Loacan.