South Cotabato opens support facility for small-scale mining

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 February) — In bid to enhance the province’s thriving small-scale mining industry, the provincial government of South Cotabato has opened a support facility for the industry in T’boli town.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Thursday they established a Minahang Bayan Center at the town proper of T’boli to properly cater to needs of the small-scale mining operators and other industry players.

She said the facility was put up at an open space within the municipal gymnasium of T’boli in Barangay Poblacion.

It was built through a funding of around P960,000 that was drawn from the budget of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, she said.

“The center will serve as a one-stop-shop dedicated to address the needs of the industry players, especially the processing of their required permits and licenses,” the governor said.

Fuentes said the Minahang Bayan Center is a project of the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO).

She said the PEMO will handle the operations of the center through its mines and geosciences division.

Aside from being a one-stop-shop, Fuentes said they are planning to also utilize the center as a training facility for jewelry-making.

She said they will collaborate with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Science and Technology for the implementation of the project, which is mainly aimed to enhance the province’s gold and silver mining industry.

In 2012, the provincial government initially launched its jewelry development project in the area.

The project, which is a joint public and private sector undertaking, is a pet initiative of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Region 12.

It was supported by the DTI, Tribal Mining Corporation (TMC), National Economic and Development Authority, barangay and the municipal governments of Tboli and the Soccsksargen Responsible Miners Association.

TMC, which is a foreign-backed mining firm operating in T’boli town, had acquired a package of jewelry-making equipment to help train local residents on jewelry-making. (MindaNews)