LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Benguet small scale miners, often regarded as illegal due to their inability to obtain necessary permits, contribute to gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product (GDP) some P3 billion pesos in gold production.
In a press conference at the Benguet provincial capitol Tuesday, Engr. Lomino Kaniteng, chair of the Benguet Federation of Small Scale Miners, said while most mining activities are not covered by permits, the records of the Central Bank (CB) shows a large contribution from the traditional miners.
Kaniteng referred to the (CB) report that showed some P3 billion annual gold production from small scale mining. He said not all gold produced by traditional miners are recorded by CB because there are traders who sell to goldsmith shops in Bulacan.
Some traders get financing from rich Chinese nationals who also keep the gold according to Kaniteng.
“Although we are considered illegal, small scale mining is a legitimate livelihood for some 20,000 miners in the province alone,” Kaniteng said.
“How could you tax illegal activities? We are considered illegal but the consent from large mining companies is the culprit. Their conditions are harsh and this has become the perennial problem that local and national government should be addressed,” he added.
The Philippine mining law requires a two percent sales tax. Kaniteng said, this may not be collected from the miners themselves but there are legitimate gold buyers accredited by CB, which ultimately buys all the gold produced by miners.
A gram of gold costs around P1,000 in the black market. This is dependent on the foreign exchange rates.
A miners’ congress will be one of the highlights of the celebration of the Adivay Festival in November. A one-day activity will feature safety drills for small scale miners. # Lyn V. Ramo