In South Cotabato, a template for small-scale mining
(Last of two parts)
T’BOLi, South Cotabato—Regulated small-scale mining has worked two ways for South Cotabato province and the miners: While they contribute to the local government coffers through taxes, the government helps ensure safety in the mining area and promote scientific technology to sustain industry income, says Seigfred Flaviano, designated head of the provincial environment and management office.
Implementing the ID system helped lower the number of child laborers and mining accidents, Flaviano says.
The Department of Labor and Employment in the region has promoted Barangay Kematu’s ranking to Level 3 in the way it deals with child labor issues.
This means that the village has already been addressing the problem by forging partnerships with local institutions for child rights advocacy and protection.
To ensure safety in the mines, the provincial government has made good use of the geohazard map produced by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in identifying areas prone to landslides and heavy flooding in the site.
“At first, they did not understand why they had to be kept away from danger zones, but with continuous dialogue, they eventually relented,” Flaviano says.
Tunnel operators are required to submit a map of their mining area when applying for a permit, he says. “We then plot their coordinates on the geohazard map, so, they can see whether their tunnel falls within the safe areas.”
De la Peña says at least 10 operators, whose tunnels are within the landslide-prone areas, have moved on to another site or have stopped operating outright.
“What makes South Cotabato unique, aside from the ban on destructive open-pit mining, is we regulate our small-scale mining and that we see to the welfare of our miners,” Flaviano says, “We want them to professionalize their operations by allowing them access to technology and credit in the future. At present, we are seeing to it that they’re safe.”
Soon, a Minahang Bayan Center will be set up to serve as a one-stop shop for permit processing, training and other assistance to miners. “That way, all processing of permits and all training for miners will already be done right at the mining site,” Flaviano says.
The P1-million building is scheduled to be finished in the first quarter next year.
Even if South Cotabato’s gold and copper reserves run out, Governor Fuentes says, she wants the local community to have something to fall back on by developing jewelry-making skills among its artisans.
Through the system it is putting in place, Flaviano says, the provincial government wants to ensure that it works hand in hand to develop the capacity of small-scale miners.
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