Monday, 23 January 2012

Mambulao gold panners up in arms

Gold panners sluice gold-laden earth by the rice paddies. The rice field owner has stopped farming his land as fold mining has become more profitable than producing rice. 

MANY small-scale mining operators in Mambulao commonly known as “gold panners” are up in arms against the suspension of the issuance of ECC, or the environmental compliance certificate.

The EEC is a prerequisite for the issuance by the municipal government of small-scale gold mining permits, according to sources in the municipality.

“When the ECC is suspended, the local government units are not supposed to issue mining permits anymore because it (ECC) is a requisite for a mining permit issuance,” sources said.

The suspension is being carried out nationwide by the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) upon instructions from President Benigno Aquino III.

The EEC suspension is aimed to forestall accidents such as landslides triggered by unregulated mountain-side excavations done by the miners in their search for gold.

Apparently, the suspension is aimed at the mining operations in Compostela Valley in Davao province and those in Cordillera mountains where landslides are common occurrences, especially during rainy season.

However, Mambulao gold panners said they are not operating on mountain slopes like in Compostela, so the danger of landslides is not present.

They said they wanted to make their gold panning operations legal but with the ECC suspension, they have practically lost their mining permits.

Gold panning, which is a common source of livelihood for many Mambulaoans, is under the supervision of the municipal government.

However, under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR still has the supervisory powers and would only extend assistance to the LGUs -- in this case the municipal government of Mambulao -- when it comes to mining operations.

A miner pulls canvas bag to surface from about 30ft deep, where a diver filled it with gold ore. – Pics courtesy of DAVE McCRACKEN website

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