The Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office No.V (MGB R.O.-V) has acted on several Minahang Bayan applications in the Bicol Region, consistent with the policy of the state to promote, develop, protect and rationalize viable small scale mining activities in order to generate more employment opportunities and provide equitable sharing of the nation’s wealth and natural resources giving due regard to existing rights.
For the Province of Camarines Norte, the Office has processed fifteen (15) applications; two (2) of which were conditionally declared; one (1) was denied and the rest are under processing stage. As to the Province of Masbate, there were three (3) applications, one of them was declared last March 13, 2018 to secure an ECC while the other applications are still under processing stage. For the Province of Camarines Sur, three (3) applications were filed and are still under processing stage.
For the declaration of a Minahang Bayan, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau shall observe the following procedures:
- The interested party shall file with the Board a petition or request for declaration of an area as Minahang Bayan specifying the coverage of the proposed area, geologic coordinates of at least four (4) corners;
- Evaluation of the proposed area of coverage whether the area is in conflict with existing mining permit/s or contract/s, situated inside areas closed to mining and whether the area is technically or economically viable;
- Issuance of Notices by the Board to claim owners, operators, private land owners, operators, private landowners and non-governmental organizations concerned, government agencies/ local government units and cultural communities for clearance and consent as the case maybe;
- Posting of notices on provincial or city/municipal halls and/or MGB Regional Office and other conspicuous places for 15 days;
- Publication in a newspaper of local or national circulation once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks;
- Segregation of proposed areas for small scale mining purposes upon completion of the necessary documents, subject to review of the Secretary within 30 working days from date of receipt of the proposal for such segregation from the Board;and
- Declaration of areas as Minahang Bayan by the Board in the event that the area to be segregated and declared for such purpose is found to be in order by the Secretary after the 30-day period of review thereof.
A “Minahang Bayan” or “People’s Small-Scale Mining Area” is an area given by the government to small-scale miners under actual exploration, development, exploitation or commercial production as determined by the Secretary under DENR Administrative Order no. 2015-03 dated March 16, 2016, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 7076 known as the People’s Small Scale Mining Law.
It is established as a government-designated and regulated area to bring small-scale miners away from danger zones, concessions already delineated for large-scale operation, and prohibited sites such as government reservations and protected areas and those that are assigned to tourism activities and agrarian reform programs, among others.
Before an area is declared as a Minahang Bayan, a necessary field investigation or verification must be conducted to determine economic, social and environmental viability of the proposed small scale mining area.
A Minahang Bayan is open to all local licensed small scale miners. All persons intending to undertake small scale mining shall register to be licensed as small scale miners with the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB).
It is the PMRB who has direct supervision and control over the programs and activities of the small scale miners within the Minahang Bayan.
The PMRB has the following functions and powers: 1. Declares and segregates existing gold-rush area for small-scale mining; 2. Reserves for the future, mineralized areas/mineral lands for declaration as Minahang Bayan; 3. Awards to small scale mining contracts to small scale miners organized as individual miner or cooperative of small scale miners; 4. Formulates and implements rules and regulations related to RA 7076; 5. Settles disputes, conflicts or litigations over conflicting claims; 6. Submits to DENR and to MGB a comprehensive annual report of overall operation of the Minahang Bayan; and 7. Performs such other functions as may be necessary to achieve the goals and objectives of RA 7076.
Any activity on small scale mining shall not be started without the official declaration of the area and formal awarding of the site to registered small scale miners of the area.