QUEZON CITY – Hundreds of small-scale mining groups from all over the country have gathered as they addressed issues in the small-scale mining sector (ASGM) at the 2nd National Assembly: National Coalition of Small-Scale Miners in the Philippines on Thursday, July 29, 2021.
With the theme “Responsable at Ligtas na Pagmimina sa Panahon ng Pandemya,” this year’s assembly has gone virtual for the first time due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which broke out last year.
Despite the limitation due to quarantine protocols, National Coalition of Small-Scale Miners in the Philippines drove the assembly into possibility, with the help of non-government organization BAN Toxics, through the support of Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC).
BAN Toxics, a lead-collaborator environmental agency who has been working with the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector. The organization’s activities focus on helping the formalization of the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector to improve working conditions, transition miners to mercury-free technology, and eliminate child labor and gender inequity.
“It was quite challenging to stage a national assembly during this pandemic. The restrictions set by the government forced us to postpone once. This year, we decided to utilize available resources to push through with this event,” BAN Toxics Executive Director Reynaldo San Juan said.
Along with the small-scale mining groups, the event was also attended by representatives from government agencies such as Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The assembly tackled issues plaguing the ASGM sector in the country, specifically the proposed amendments to Executive Order 79 and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 92-34, and the difficult acquisition process of obtaining a Minahang Bayan certification and mining contract.
Established in 2016, the National Coalition of Small-Scale Miners in the Philippines is a union of small-scale miners’ associations nationwide promoting responsible mining through the formalization of the ASGM sector. The coalition’s first National Assembly took place in Davao del Sur last July 2019.
National Coalition President Gil Indino expressed hope for the development of small-scale mining areas into medium-scale by improving their equipment for better operations.
“Hinahangad din po namin ang agarang pag-apruba ng maraming minahang bayan sa buong bansa para maging legal ang lahat ng small-scale miners,” Indino added.
(We hope for the quick approval and formalization of more people’s small-scale mining areas nationwide so we can legalize all small-scale miners.)
“We call for the formalization of the ASGM sector to improve the working conditions of small-scale miners, transition them out of mercury use to protect both their health and the environment, and eliminate child labor in mining areas,” San Juan said.
By Jhian Christian Aranas
Jhian Christian Aranas is a communication intern at BAN Toxics, and currently a senior journalism student at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Aside from writing, he also specializes in multimedia and graphic designing.