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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) sought to intensify the regulation of small-scale mining operations particularly in monitoring undisposed residual stockpiles outside mining sites.

The newest directive from MGB was implemented through Department Administrative Order 2019-19 (DAO 2019-19) on November 18, 2019.

“The purpose [of DAO 2019-19] is to speed up the environmental restoration both during and after mining operations by the Minahang Bayan,” explained MGB Director Atty. Wilfredo G. Moncano.

A Minahang Bayan is a government-regulated cooperative of small-scale miners organized in a certain area or region. 

Under the new DAO, small-scale mining operations will now have to meet stricter conditions in the disposal of residual stockpiles, or ores previously extracted but not yet disposed during the mining contract.

The disposal will also be implemented under a required Environmental Management Plan (EMP) which miners must submit to report their environmental management objectives and their commitment to protect and rehabilitate the disturbed environment during disposition of residual stockpiles. 

The latest move of MGB follows a multi-step campaign to increase the regulation of small-scale mining, in addition to stricter policing of the entire industry. 

“We understand the negative view of mining, but we want the public to know that mining is not the same as it was before the Mining Act of 1995,” Moncano added. 

“The MGB is always working to improve the regulations on mining, to safeguard environmental protection, and protect the community,” he explained further.

Among the steps taken to increase the regulation of small-scale mining were the provision of incentives in legalizing small-scale mining operations and the fast tracking of application processes for various licenses. The excise and income taxes for small-scale mining operations were also waived to encourage illegal operators to become legal and adhere to environment and safety standards.

The MGB also facilitated a Global Environment Facility-funded project valued over USD 11.7 million to eradicate the usage of mercury in small-scale gold mining operations in April.

“The approach really has to be inclusive,” explained Moncano. “Outright prohibition and taxation only pushes small-scale miners into the black market.”

He added that this was part of a long initiative to improve the mining industry overall under the present administration.

Alongside all these steps, 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, to promote responsible mining practices, and to show that the government is committed to the priority of upholding the safety of people and the environment in the mining industry.

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