MGB scouring more ‘Minahang Bayan’ in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 July) – The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is planning to establish more “Minahang Bayan” or small-scale mining areas in the Davao region in line with Executive Order 79 that contains the government’s new mining policies.

Engr. Edilberto Arreza, MGB director for Southern Mindanao, said they are scouring more mineral areas in the region for designation as Minahang Bayan, a government-designated and regulated area, to bring small scale miners away from danger zones and concessions already delineated for large-scale operation.
He added his office is on the process of identifying and evaluating prospective Minahang Bayan sites to either accommodate new requests for small scale prospecting, or relocate miners from active mining areas rendered hazardous by unregulated activities.

He, however, declined to name these areas to avoid miners and fortune-hunters from venturing into them.

Arreza said the Davao Region has existing Minahang Bayan in the following areas: Biasong, Boringot and Diat in the mountains of Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan; in Hinopoan and Suraban of Nabunturan; and in Tandik, Panuraon and Lumangga of Maco. The three municipalities are located in Compostela Valley. The other Minahang Bayan was established in Barangay Punta Linaw, Banaybanay town, Davao Oriental.

Minahang Bayan was the government attempt to regulate small-scale mining activities that were blamed for dumping mercury and cyanide to the waterways and the underground.

He said that the size of the Minahang Bayan would not be solely measured by the number of miners applying for it, but by the potential and safety condition of the place.

The EO has also directed national government agencies and local governments “to properly regulate small-scale mining participants and ensure that they are accountable to the same environmental and social obligations as large-scale mining companies.”

Arreza said that the EO would still need the crafting of implementing rules and regulations to be effective.

Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy earlier said that the search for Minahang Bayan would continue, as the national government also pushed for stricter regulation on the activities of small-scale miners.

He also welcomed the provision in the Executive Order 79 that increased excise tax and royalty payment, saying this would also increase the share of the local government. The EO is entitled “Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector.” (MindaNews)