Cyanide barred in small-scale mine in Itogon
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet— Small-scale miners are now tasked with seeking clean technologies for extracting gold from ore once they are cleared to operate the 64-hectare “Minahang Bayan” (people’s mine) that was approved by the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB) in Itogon town, Benguet province.
The PMRB guidelines for mining contract applications, which were expected to be approved next week, ban the use of toxic chemicals such as cyanide.
On Jan. 15, the PMRB opened the first (not second as earlier reported) Minahang Bayan at Barangay Loacan in Itogon, following the clearance issued last month by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
The opening paved the way for small-scale miners to apply for mining contracts, amid a national crackdown on unlicensed pocket miners.
Cimatu earlier said the shutdown of illegal mine tunnels, which he started in Baguio City in February last year, addressed pollution attributed to the unregulated processing of ore.
Cyanide, which can be easily obtained, is mixed with finely crushed ore in leaching tanks and vats to bind fine gold particles.
This process doubles the recovery rate compared to traditional sluicing (gold extraction).
Most processing plants, however, do not have tailings ponds to treat or collect mine waste.
There has been evidence that some miners dump toxic waste into creeks or rivers, based on an inspection report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The 30,000-member Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners has taken part in the campaign to ban cyanide and mercury use in mines.
The group manages the P25-million integrated gold-copper mineral processing plant at Sitio Basil in Barangay Gumatdang, also in Itogon.
The plant was developed by the University of the Philippines and the Department of Science and Technology in 2017. — KARLSTON LAPNITEN
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