The Re-Entry Project entitled, “Design of a Modular Custom Mill for Gold Recovery and Cyanide Detoxification in Minahang Bayan Areas” was conceptualized primarily to support the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 7076 otherwise known as People’s Small-scale Mining Act of 1991. This is to address the issue on the proliferation of backyard gold processing that resulted in the poisoning of people, animals and the environment as well. It will also address the proliferation of unregulated small-scale processing plants that employ cyanide and mercury in the process of recovering gold which resulted in the generation of tailings/wastes that are not detoxified and are not even contained in secure tailings storage facilities. With the full implementation of the project, it will eliminate undetoxified tailings produced in backyard gold processing, and nearby bodies of water will be protected from contamination with these tailings. The risk of people and animals from cyanide poisoning will also be prevented. In addition to this, almost all of the gold productions of small-scale miners are not sold to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas due to taxation. Hence, the potential revenue being lost is very significant.
Though the project will still use cyanide, there will be a neutralization or detoxification of the wastes/tailings before containing them in a secured dam. Tailings are expected to be within the standard limits set by Environmental Management Bureau of DENR for cyanide and other heavy minerals.
The ReP was able to deliver the intended outputs, namely, (1) Design of the Custom Mill with inputs from various stakeholders, (2) Procedural Guidelines on the acceptance and processing of Gold Ores for processing in a Custom Mill inside a Minahang Bayan Area, and (3) Endorsement in support of the plant.
To ensure the sustainability of the project, the scholar will continue to hurdle for funds within MGB budget. Initially, I had presented the ReP to the MGB Director and he has required the scholar to have the design be known to all existing and those with pending approval Minahang Bayan nationwide which means that the scholar would go on fieldworks to all these areas with existing Minahang Bayan application to gain support for funding from the would-be private investors and/or small-scale miners associations and cooperatives. Moreover, the scholar also plans to have the design presented in technical forums relating to mining and mineral processing in the Philippines such as the conventions of Society of Metallurgical Engineers of the Philippines, and Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association.
BERNARDO V. BITANGA
Mines and Geosciences Bureau