Philippines does not only contain Spanish and Japanese hidden treasures but it is also considered as one of the countries in the world with large mining potential of various valuable minerals. In terms of gold production, Philippines is currently ranked at the 18th position since 2011 (according to “Gold Facts”).
The overall output productions of all gold mining companies in the country averages at around 37.1 tons of gold each year. And based on some mining experts, they claim that there is an estimated amount of around 3.77 million ounces reserves. The most interesting fact is that, the country accounts for the 1.32 percent of gold production in the world market.
Aside from gold, Philippines is also rich in other mineral resources which include the following:
1. Iron (Iron Ore)
2. Iron Alloys (Chromites, Nickel, Molybdenum, Manganese Ore, Cobalt)
3. Base Metals (Copper, Lead, Zinc, Mercury, Quicksilver, Cadmium)
4. Light Metals (Aluminum, Bauxite, Manganese)
5. Precious Metals (Gold, Silver, Platinum)
6. Rare Metals (Uranium)
*For more information about the Philippine Metallic Ore Reserves, visit the “Mining Potential in the Philippines” publication of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Philippines
The MGB or “Mines and Geosciences Bureau” is a Philippine government institution which is a part of a larger government agency known as the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources). MGB’s tasks are all focused in the country’s mineral resources. They are actually responsible in the conservation, management, development and proper usages of all these minerals.
Today, MGB are putting all their efforts in promoting the development of mineral resources in the country. It is because they believe that mining can boost the national economic growth and develop countryside communities.
PMDC (Philippine Mining Development Corporation)
The PMDC or “Philippine Mining Development Corporation” is a mining firm that seeks to develop, promote and manage mining projects in the country. They also tend to build productive partnerships to all mining operators in order create wealth and enrich the lives of the mining communities.
PMDC is also committed in implementing the ideal standards of being a responsible miners where they adopt the best environmental practices.
Here’s a list of some other mining firms in the Philippines:
– Benguet Nickle Mines, Inc.
– Cagdianao Mining Corp.
– Hinatuan Mining Corp.
– Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp.
– Taganito Mining Corp.
– Carmen Copper Mining Corp.
– Filminera Mining Corp.
– Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp.
– Oceana Gold (Philippines) Inc.
– Philex Mining Corp.
– Philsaga Mining Corp.
– Plantinum Group Metals Corp.
– TVI Resource Development
– Zambales Diversified Metals Corp.
– CTP Construction Corp.
– Berong Nickel Corp.
– Eramen Minerals Inc.
– Apex Mining Co. Inc.
– LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc.
– Leyte Iron Sand Mining Corp.
– Sino Steel Phils H.Y Mining Corp.
– Cambayas Mining Corp.
– Marcventures Mining and Development
– Johnson Gold Mining Corp.
– Shenzhou Mining Group Corp.
– Krominco Inc.
– Oriental Synergy Mining Corp.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s Move to Mining
Back in July 2012, the Philippine President Benigno Aquino (Pinoy) finally signed an executive order concerning all mining companies in the country. The issued order was to halt the issuance of mining licenses to all operators. Due to this decree, the foreign investment of the country’s mineral resources drastically decreased.
In addition, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council suddenly became strict by prohibiting all mining companies to operate on some 78 areas which are considered sensitive ecosystems such as places that involves agriculture and tourism.
Mining and Environment – How will it Affect Us?
It is actually true that mining operations can boosts the country’s economy. But, what’s the impact into our environment and how will it really affect us? Sad to say that mining have bad consequence back to “nature” and “for us” no matter how you tend to look at it in a positive way.
Mining in the Philippines are actually political in nature. You might be surprised to know that there was an incident in the past where an anti-mining activist was shot and killed at the Compostela Valley, Mindanao. The victim was actually demanding a compensation from the Apex Mining company due to the losses and damages contributed by the company’s mining operations to his land.
Cutting of the Trees
Even a ten year-old kid can look at the process of how mining works and easily understands how it will affect the environment.
Before operators starts to mine a certain area, they need to clear the land by cutting all the trees on the surface. This is just one of the first step of mining a certain area which is known as “deforestation”. You have to know that this deforestation process damages wildlife habitats. As a result, animals living in the forest will either move from another place but worse, they end up dying leading into their own extinctions.
Exposure to Harmful Chemicals
Mining involves the use of powerful chemical agents such as cyanide, mercury, methyl-mercury and arsenic. What usually happens is that, these chemicals are forced through into the pipes with water that carries them out into the streams, creeks, rivers and lakes.
Health experts claims that exposure into these chemicals can cause skin rashes, diseases and even cancer. They even found out that all pregnant women who drink water contaminated by these chemicals results into babies being born with birth defects.
Growth of vegetation is also affected by the contaminated water so as the all aquatic life forms.
There are also instances where the water accumulated in pits (stagnant water) becomes breeding ground for mosquitoes. These are the insects responsible for distributing malaria, dengue and meningitis.
Some List of Philippine’s Large Scale Gold Mining Companies
Despite of the negative impact of mining into our environment, the Philippine government is still favorable to mining investments. Fortunately, some restrictions are recently implemented that all mining operators must follow the approved standards.
Here are some of the following large-scale gold mining companies in the country:
1. Indophil Resources
– “Indophil Resources” is an Australian based company with four major projects in two different regions of the country. The first region is at the Northern Luzon specifically at Balatoc area. Their operation is focused on gold and copper-gold mineralization. The second region is at the Eastern Mindanao which is at Manat and Bunawan. Currently, they are still in the process of exploring and studying the area.
2. Red Mountain Mining
– “Red Mountain Mining” is another Australian based company who recently worked on various projects in Batangas. They are actually a company who seek underdeveloped gold and polymetallic projects in Asia.
3. Apex Mining
– “Apex Mining” is one of Philippine’s own gold mining company. Currently, this company is focusing on their project known as the “Maco Mine” which is located in the island of Mindanao.
4. United Paragon Mining
– “United Paragon Mining” features exploration, development, exploitation and sales of gold. They are currently operating at Paracale, Camarines Norte which is known as the “Longos Mine”.
– “Benguet” has the oldest record of mining company in the Philippine history which was established since 1903. One of their main project involves the “Acupan Gold Project” which consists of about 223 minerals claims in the part of Itogon. Another major project being maintained by Benguet is the “Balatoc Tailings Project” which achieved the first largest-scale of gold recovery from their mill tailings.
6. Philex Mining
– “Philex Mining” company is focused in the metal business industry. In regards about gold mining, they actually own several mines that are actively operating throughout the country. Two of their projects which involves gold production are the “Padcal” and “Silangan”.
7. St. Augustine Gold & Copper
– “St. Augustine Gold & Copper” is a mining company that is currently working on one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold in the world in which they call it, “King-king”. The mine is located at the southeast region of the Philippine Island of Mindanao.
Gold and Copper Mining in the Philippines
Philippines is both rich in gold and copper mineral resources. Thus, most mining companies in the country are focused in the extraction of these two valuable components. The process of mining gold and copper takes several techniques.
1. Gold Mining Methods
a. Placer Mining
e. Rocker box
f. Hard rock mining
g. By product gold mining
*For more information about gold mining which include the explanation into the mining methods mentioned above, you can read it here: Wikipedia.
2. Copper Mining Methods
There are two methods on how miners can choose to extract the copper out from the ground.
a. Open Pit Mining
– This method requires the use of large or heavy equipment that does the work of excavating and hauling the mineral resources. They start from the earth’s surface digging a large pit that goes down into the deeper portion of the earth.
b. Underground Mining
– Open pit mining is a very expensive method. So those who want to avoid the cost, they tend to consider underground mining. This method is a much preferred method because its safe, economical and less waste involve.
*For more details about copper mining, you can read on this article entitled “Copper Mining” by the Philippine Metals Inc.
Small Scale Mining
The main difference between large-scale mining from small-scale mining can be defined based on the number of working individuals. Large scale-mining actually employs thousands of people to work into the mines. As for small-scale mining, miners are simply composed of small numbers which ranges from 4 to 10 people only.
Another difference of small-scale mining is that, they are limited to extracting gold, silver, kaolin, silica, marble, gravel, clan and chromites. They are also prohibited to use hydraulic and compressor methods. So as chemicals such as mercury in any phase of processing stage.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, there will be more sites that will be opened in the future to all small-scale miners. This was due to the proposed revisions of the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) of the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991. Currently, MGB noted that there are about 3,000 small-scale miners operating in the country.
Small-Scale Mining Equipments
As stated, small-scale miners are prohibited to use hydraulics, compressor methods of any heavy equipment on their operations. And according to the Republic Act No. 7076 (An act creating a people’s small-scale mining program and for other purposes) under Section 3.b states:
refers to mining activities which rely heavily on manual labor using simple implements and methods and do not use explosives or heavy mining equipment;
It is also important to be aware of what has been stated on Section 27. Anyone who violates the provisions stated on Republic Act No. 7076 will receive an imprisonment of 6 months to 6 years as punishment. This also include the confiscation and seizure of all the equipment, tools and instruments used in the mining operation.
Mining Jobs and Employment
Mining in the Philippines has indeed created plenty of jobs for the Filipino people to become miners. According to some report, the employment of mining in 2003 was at 104,000 then on 2009 it increased to 166,000. In fact, miners is on high-demand that some operators (especially small-scale mining) even exploit children.
Gold mining is actually a very dangerous type of job. Most miners often experiences exposure to toxic chemicals particularly mercury and cyanide.
Due to poverty in the Philippines, children are forced to work into the mines. Young children at the age of 7 and below are put at a less dangerous but still rigorous tasks. Some of these includes panning in the streams or rivers. But you may be surprised to know that, some of them also does the hauling of the ore sacks weighing up to 60 pounds!
Abandoned Mining Sites
There are countless number of mining sites in the Philippines which are composed of both large to small scale mining. But recently, the growing number of mining sites suddenly became a threat particularly those abandoned mining sites. People living near them are facing great dangers because those abandoned mines can cause soil erosion and flooding.
Raymond Palatino of the “Kabataan Party-List” had already asked the MGB to assess all non-operating mines in the country. They should conduct a thorough investigation of these forgotten mines on how they affect the environment, health and safety of the communities nearby.
Some abandoned mining sites can be found in Zambales, Pangasinan, Kalinga, Benguet, Agusan del Sur, Negros, Marinduque, Eastern Samar, Albay, Romblon, Palawan, Camarines Norte, Samar, Surigao del Norte and Isabela.
Mining in the Philippines | Concerns and Conflicts
There is an ongoing concerns and conflicts with regards to mining in the Philippines. According to the report of some concerned environmental organization, the country is being aggressively mined in a fast-paced manner that can cause massive long-term environmental damages.
Here are the following concerns and conflicts of the report:
1. Economic Growth in Exchange of the Environment
The government sees mining as a method of boosting economic growth leading to sustainable development. However, the impact can be damaging to the eco-systems. This includes the watersheds, rivers, marine life and agricultural productions.
2. Insufficient Benefits to the Filipino People
Philippines is an agricultural country. Thus, mining will affect the majority of all Filipino people on their agricultural livelihood.
3. Corruption is a Serious Problem
The implementation of the licensing, regulation and monitoring makes mining another reason why it does not benefit the Filipino people. Why? It’s due to corruption.
4. Extra-Judicial Killings
Since the 2001, there has been a total record of more than 700 activists in the country which include civil rights and environmental advocates that had been killed.
Here are the following recommendations of the report:
1. The Philippine Government should choose Mining Applications that does not cause major environmental damages.
2. The Philippine Government should revoke the Mining Act of 1995 and enact alternative legislation that protects the interest of all affected local communities.
3. The World Bank Group should stop their promotion and support for mining expansion in the country.
4. All current mining operations should be inspected by a reputable and independent organizations.
Where to Find Gold in the Philippines?
Many foreign treasure hunters were asking me about “Where can they find gold in the Philippines?”. They are not literally searching for the hidden Japanese treasures but their main objective is to search for gold nuggets through their sophisticated metal detectors.
Gold in the Philippines is actually different because there is a very low chance of finding gold nuggets as compared in the western countries. The best method to find gold in the Philippines for a is via “dredging and panning”.
Panning is the most common method to find gold in the country. It has to be done along the river and it requires some good techniques to separate the small bit of fine gold from the dirt.
Gold Mining Versus Treasure Hunters
Gold mining requires a large amount of investment and work. It may also take years before you can reap the fruit of your labor and investment. While on some cases, the company can even go bankrupt due to low source of funding.
In the field of treasure hunting, the cost isn’t comparable to mining and the work involve does not take so much time. Some experienced or lucky treasure hunters in the Philippines can actually recover a hidden deposit in just a matter of several weeks or months. And, the reward is a lot more promising because most hidden treasures were already in their finished or processed form such as gold bars, golden Buddha, jewelries and old coins.
Although, gold mining in the Philippines still offers a greater chance of success than treasure hunting.