DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Almost a hundred small scale miners from Mt. Diwalwal trooped to the office of the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC) Monday, October 23 to call on the government to reconsider its plan of ordering small scale miners to relocate operations outside Mt. Diwalwal.
Judan Euraba, president of the Nagkahiusang Bomilan sa Diwalwal (United Ball Mills in Diwalwal), said the PMDC ordered the relocation of ball mill operators from Diwalwal to Mabatas.
But Euraba, 31, said their relocation will result to “displacement of small scale miners and their families.”
Euraba said the plan will displace at least 270 families of ball mill owners and thousands of “abantero” (mine workers), tunnel owners, and small-time vendors.
“The new location of ball mill is farther and it will incur us additional cost for labor and for the transport of ores from Diwalwal,” Euraba told Davao Today. He said the estimate location of the new area is “800 meters” down the mountain.
Euraba explained that small-scale miners like him can only get a minimum of 0.3 grams of gold from a rock which costs around P400.
But small-scale miners have to pay for the sacks, labor, food, and the transportation of the bags from the tunnels to the ball mill.
“With the new location, we will have to pay P150 for the motorcycle for each ride to transport the sacks,” he said, adding, the additional cost will further reduce their profit.
Euraba said he earns only P350 a day which he spends for his family. He has two children who are in elementary.
He came from a family of small-scale miners. His 53-year old father, Lorenzo and his two brothers are small scale miners.
Engr. Jessie Casalda, PMDC Board of Director confirmed the plan to relocate the small scale miners have been in place since July this year.
However, because of the resistance that small scale miners have put up, “the order was deferred.”
Casalda said the small scale miners asked for a “grace period of three months.” The grace period ended last October 5 but the small scale miners put up a barricade in protest of the order.
But Casalda clarified there is no plan to demolish the small scale miners.
“There is no plan to displace them, they will only be resettled. It’s for their own safety and for the prevention of further contamination of the Naboc river” Casalda told Davao Today over the phone.
Casalda said the Naboc river has already been found to be contaminated with mercury, used in artisanal mining.
But Euraba said there is no need for them to be relocated if the plan to put up a tailing pond during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has pushed through.
“Their reason to relocate us was because they wanted to practice responsible mining, but the plan to put up a tailing pond was originally in place to separate the wastes. They should instead put up the tailing pond so there is no need for us to be relocated,” he said.
Casalda explained that the plan did not push through because of the lack of funds of the PMDC. (davaotoday.com)