By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
SMALL-SCALE gold operators/miners in Mambulao should form themselves into a co-operative to benefit fully from their trade, with ample protection under the law, an industry source has suggested.
The source said that the recently-signed Executive Order No. 79, which seeks to streamline mining operations in the country, has provided in Section 11, (paragraph ‘f’): “Training and capacity building measures in the form of technical assistance for small-scale mining co-operatives and associations shall be conducted by the concerned government agencies.”
The provision clearly indicates the creation of small-scale co-operatives could enhance their source of livelihood under close supervision of the government agency concerned, which is the Bureau of Cooperatives (BOC), the source said.
Under co-op system, gold operators will turn over their production to the cooperative, which, in turn, market their gold for highest possible price.
The net income from the co-op’s periodic operations would be shared pro-rata among the member-operators.
One requirement under this set up is for prospective small-scale gold operators to join the co-op and be subjected to its rules and regulations.
Those who refused to do so would not be allowed to operate at the “Minahang Bayan”, which would be supervised by municipal government of Jose Panganiban.
In short, they could lose their livelihood as they would not be able to operate elsewhere without going illegal, except at the legally declared “Minahang Bayan”.
There are close to 200 off-and-on gold panners/gold miners in the municipality supporting close to 1,000 family members.
They normally operate under some so-called “financiers” who have tie-ups with mining rights claimants.
The financiers pay royalties to the rights claimants for whatever gold ore or earth they have extracted from their (claimants) mining sites.
Meanwhile, the gold workers get their appropriate shares from the operations.
However, Section 3 of EO79, has put an end to undeveloped mining claims which exist in Mambulao.
The section provides for the “Cleansing of non-moving mining rights holders”, referring to mining claims that have been sitting undeveloped for years and are just being operated under the “royalty” scheme -- the common practice right now in the municipality.
The MWBuzz source said the cancellation of idle mining rights claims paves the way for the establishment of “Minahang Bayan”, or “People’s Small-Scale Mining Areas”.
Once set up, the Minahang Bayan program could now initiate the creation of cooperatives that would cover all small gold operators from Mambulao.
The Jose Panganiban local government unit (JPLGU) could take the initiative of forming such a cooperative in coordination with BOC, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), according to the source.