Fashioning A Small Scale Mining Cooperative

To start right on track with series of meetings conducted regarding small scale mining, some interested individuals decided to make the ball rolling. The group elected its officers to make things happen.

As of 11.00 o’clock in the morning of May 12, 2017, a small group started to create and elect officers intended for a small scale mining cooperative. In a meetup held at the Holland Park Restaurant along Lakandula Street in Baguio City, the Board of Directors, Vice chairman and Chairman were chosen by the group.

Elected officers,   to start with, are the following:

Chairman:                          Richard Dagasen and concurrent Secretary

Vice Chairman:                 Dorotheo Aligo

Board of Directors:

Peter K. Madalang

Randy C. Pudsoc

Codemo Sagamang

Ruben C. Salve and acting Treasurer

In Benguet Province, one of the sources of livelihood is small scale mining aside from the temperate vegetable gardening. Our ancestors had long been extracting metals in our ancestral lands not for profit but as a way of life before the Spaniards landed in the Philippines.

In 1903, the Benguet Consolidated Mining Company now the Benguet Corporation started to operate commercial mining in Benguet Province. Then came other mining companies such as Philex Mining Corp and Lepanto Consolidated Mine that operated in the municipalities of Itogon, Tuba and Mankayan. Side by side with the large scale mining, the small scale mining thrived. To date, the current mining practice here has improved and evolved to meet the demands of the present times. Still, there are traditional small scale mining that exists. Their method of mining is unique as handed down through generations until now.

People from the nearby provinces came here trying their luck in small scale mining. Some got rich, made good fortunes being able to build homes, paid the education of their children, made investments and saved capital for their business. Others just made themselves one day millionaires.  It’s a good thing the host Province of Benguet and its people are generous enough to share their minerals until this time. Other people coming were not that lucky and some greedy.

Songs and stories of this mining activities are told and retold up to this time in their communities or when they come to Baguio City to rest in the cafes or bars.

Before the big companies came to mine here, The lands were fertile, the mountains were full of pine trees and you can smell its fresh scent. The rivers and watersheds were alive. Today, it’s beauty, landscape, stability, and ecosystem were lost. But still, many people would still look for that precious metal somewhere over the mountains, down and under the mountains or somewhere else.

To sustain and develop a small mining industry, the concerned local governance has to do more in introducing legislative agendas. The national government has to entail technical knowledge and scientific know-how. Proper supervision and control by the government are imperatives in mining to be able to extract efficiently, properly and safely the minerals underneath the ground for the benefit of those engaged in it and importantly, the communities and government affected.

The national government has yet to show its sincere effort in developing the small mining industry. They favored the foreign large scale companies that extracted most of our minerals minus taxes and shares to the host communities.

Our neighbor association of small scale mining in Benguet estimates that they can produce three to four tons of gold yearly. (A ton of gold values at about P2 billion, and three tons is about P6 billion worth. In peso value of year 2017, the current price of gold was about $1,120 per ounce.) Whether this production were tax mapped or not, the national and LGU’s has things to do.

In Mindanao,  like in South Cotabato, the Provincial Government regulated their small scale mining system such that the mining revenue increased. In return, the Provincial Government helps ensure safety in the mining area and promote scientific technology to sustain industry income.

A purpose in planning and joining this association are the following:  First is the protection and conservation of our own natural habitat. Second is to make this livelihood registered or legal and the third one is that the Duterte administration seems to exercise the political will to impose environmental laws and implement proper taxation and sharing to host communities and the government minus corruption.

With the long period of small scale mining, its development as part of a national mining industry failed. The small scale mining technologies are still inefficient and mining laws are insufficient. Just like agriculture, they remain in exploitative social and economic relations with the middlemen, financiers and the large scale mining corporations.

As what Anita Roddick, termed in her Business as Usual, “In terms of power and influence you can forget about the church, forget politics. There is no more powerful institution in society than business . . . The business of business should not be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.” 

A small scale mine in Ucab, Itogon, Benguet Province

mine tax

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