April 14, 2015

DENR issues revised IRR of ‘Small-Scale Mining Act’

By: Lyndee Rose S. Basilio

Tuguegarao City, Cagayan- Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently signed the Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2015-03 that provides for the revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 7076, otherwise known as “People’s Small Scale Mining Act of 1991”, in an effort to stop indiscriminate small scale mining operations in the country and can evade to deprive the government of revenues from small scale mining operations.

The DAO 2015- 03 is in line with the mining policy of Aquino Administration that features mining policy reforms that ensures to enforce stringent policies on environmental protection as contained in Executive Order No. 79.

In the revised IRR, contracts for small-scale mining operations shall now be issued by the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board instead of the Provincial Governor or City Mayor that often lacks the technical expertise to understand their operations. The declaration of Minahang Bayan would be reviewed by the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board that would be submitted to the office of the DENR Secretary for clearance.

Further, DAO No. 2015-03 limited the extraction of small scale mining of metallic materials to just three minerals namely: gold, silver and chromite.

Among the other salient features of DAO No. 2015-03 is the complete banning of the use of mercury in any phase of mineral processing. The use of hydraulicking, and compressor mining methods shall as well be prohibited.

The revised IRR also provides for centralized custom mill within the confined designated mineral processing zone inside a Minahang Bayan.

These Minahang Bayan sites will be limited to a maximum period of six years, including its renewal.

Moreover, the revised IRR also limited the qualified applicants of a Small-Scale Mining Contract to a cooperative or group of small scale miners. Thus, Small scale miners can organize themselves into a group or cooperatives and apply for the establishment of Minahang Bayan sites in their locality.

Likewise, the DAO 2015- 03 allows the establishment of Minahang Bayan in areas covered by large-scale mining applications that have been denied but with pending appeals, provided that royalties shall be paid in escrow, while awaiting for the final resolution of the said appeals.

It further requires the Small-Scale Mining Contractors to pay a Government Share in the amount to be set by the Board, on top of the payment of the usual taxes and it mandates to require mineral processors to secure Mineral Processing Licenses from the Board.

DAO No. 2015- 03 aims to transform the small scale mining operations in the country to be a more responsible sector in the mining industry that can contribute to the improvement of the country.

DAO No. 2015- 03 took effect on April 2, 2015.