THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera (MGB-CAR) is looking into approving more small-scale mining (SSM) contracts to allow mining associations in the region to mine in the designated Minahang Bayan (MB) sites in the Cordillera.
MGB-CAR Engineer. Brent Pagteilan said that 12 SSM contract applications are pending, with five from Benguet miners having been sent back for compliance with necessary requirements, while six from Apayao miners and one from Abra miners are still being processed.
Pagteilan said they expect the approval of the contract application of Ag-agit SSM and Multi-purpose Cooperative in Licuan-Baay, Abra, which is already complying with the mandatory and processing requirements.
Memorandum of agreements were already signed with the Bulawan Land Owners SSM Association in Butao, Calanasan, Apayao and the YCalanasan Minahang Bayan Association in Eva Garden, also in Calanasan.
A field-based investigation was held with the other four applications in Apayao, and whoever finishes the process first will be given the contract this year, Pagteilan said.
However, the Benguet mining contract applications still need to be made compliant with the requirements before any approval or further steps can be made.
For this year, only two SSM contracts were approved in the region. Said contracts are for Northern Sagada Barangay SSM Association Small-Scale Mining Association Inc. in Fidelisan, Sagada, in Mountain Province, approved on July 11, 2023, and the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association in Loacan, Itogon, Benguet, that was approved on September 21, 2023.
However, the two approved contracts only cover a little more than 1,000 small-scale miners, and small-scale miners in the region continue to assert that the MB and SSM contract requirements will mean that many miners who cannot be approved or comply will lose their livelihoods.
Fernando Mangili, Benguet Small Scale Miners Assembly convenor, previously said that in Benguet alone, there are at least 34,000 small-scale miners, who are unable to operate legally due to the lack of contracts and the expenses and bureaucracy involved in securing said contracts. The Northern Sagada association claims that the process of securing their SSM contract cost at least P600,000.
MGB-CAR Regional Director Faye Apil also previously admitted that complying with the requirements remains a challenge for small-scale miners, adding that these are both “technical and costly processes.”