By BEN MOSES EBREO/PIA NVizcaya
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya — Small scale miners in barangays Didipio and Alimit in this town have asked government officials to provide them legal areas to mine or “Minahan ng Bayan” areas as a source of their livelihood.
Marilou Nablul, barangay captain of Didipio said small scale miners, composed of tunnel owners and buyers of mineral by-products are pushing for the government’s declaration of mining area for the affected villagers.
“Small scale mining has been the source of livelihood among our constituents for many years, it is where they source out money to send their children to school,” Nablul said.
She said the buyers of mineral by-products have sought assistance from local and national government officials last week, asking for the release of their vehicles which were earlier impounded by environment officials.
The impounded vehicles contained tons of mineral by-products called “Luyot.”
The villagers also asked local government officials to allow them to resume the transport of their mineral by-products.
According to Nablul, the villagers have invested more than a million pesos in buying the mineral by-products when these were seized by local environment enforcers while they were on their way to sell them outside the province.
“We are only asking you to allow us to transport and sell these mineral by-products. Once we will sell them, we will stop once and for all because we did not know that it was illegal,” said Josephine Pugong, president of the mineral buyers in barangay Didipio.
In the hope to address the clamor of Didipio and alimit small scale miners for legal areas to mine and resolve the on going rift the said miners and Ocena Gold Philippines Inc. (OGPI) over mining areas covered by Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) granted to the OGPI by the national government, the provincial government is in the process of organaizing the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) which will be chaired by the regional director of the Mines and GeoSciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR).
Engr. Jeoffrey Prado, MGB coordinator for Nueva Vizcaya said under the law, the PMRB is the only body which can process and grant mining applications among small scale miners. He added that the “Minahan ng Bayan” can be recommended by the PMRB as one of its major functions.
Prado however said the FTAA holder or OGPI should relinquish the proposed area before it could be legally declared as a mining area for the villagers.
“We need to get the consent of the mining company before the DENR can approved its declaration as a “Minahan ng Bayan,” Prado said.
Mining areas in barangays Alimit and Didipio are covered by the OGPI’s FTAA which was granted in 1995, allowing the exploration of high grade gold and copper deposits. # nordis.net