Anti-miners have questioned the government’s push over the “big brother-small brother” strategy in the mining industry.
Under the strategy. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Antonia Loyzaga said that large-scale miners should assist small-scale miners in meeting their social development targets by setting aside a portion of their social development fund. Such moves include capacitating small miners and enhancing the resilience of mining communities.
But for Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), despite the laudable intent of the strategy, problematic policy and implementation implications are anticipated.
“If the SDMP were to be used to benefit small-scale miners, this in effect takes away financial resources that were originally intended for affected communities and local governments,” ATM said.
ATM said that identifying and prioritizing a specific sector like small-scale miners will only “benefit a few and is a form of favoritism, “while the broader whole community collectively feels the impacts of the mining project.”
The DERN strategy will also push large mining companies to set aside funds to support small-scale miners outside its tenement. Small scale mining is not allowerd within the tenement of large mining operations.
“So we ask, why should SDMP funds be used for the benefit of a group that are living or working outside of the affected or impacted areas of the large-scale mining project?” ATM said.
The anti-mining group also called out the DENR for not yet completing the registration of small-scale mining activities in the country.
ATM also questioned whether the strategy will be limited to areas declared as “Minahang Bayan.”
“There are many illegal and unmonitored SSM activities that are not officially Minahang Bayans, will they be covered as well?” the group asked.
Before pushing for the “big brother-small brother” strategy, ATM said that a review of mining laws should be done.
“Amendments to both the Philippine Mining Act or Republic Act 7942 and RA 7076 (Peoples Small-scale Mining Act) itself, might be necessary before the government asks the large-scale miners to ‘share’ the SDMP,” ATM said.
Earlier, the DENR said that it is looking to integrate a “big brother-small brother” strategy in the social development and management programs (SDMP) of large mining companies.
SDMP is a five-year plan where mining contractors and permit holders allocate 1.5% of their annual expenses to support the development and empowerment of host and neighboring communities.
Of this, 75% goes to community development, while 10% is for development of mining technology and geosciences, and 15% is used for information, education, and communication campaign.