DAVAO CITY -- After many years in doldrums, the small-scale miners in Mt. Diwata and Sitio Depot area are paving the way for the transfer of the batch-type mini CIP (Carbon in pulp) and ball mills to the Mineral Processing Zone in Mabatas area in Monkayo, Compostela Valley province.
Lawyer Felix Alicer, regional coordinator of the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC), said it had been years since the transfer of the CIP and ball mill plants was planned until last year when the provincial government of Compostela Valley took the cudgels to fund the land preparation and develop the road network.
PMDC spearheads the government’s initiative to develop the 8,100 hectares Diwalwal Mineral Reservation, including Diwalwal gold rush area in Mt. Diwata, Compostela Valley.
From PHP1.5 million funds for land preparation of the Mabatas area, Alicer said the expenses of the provincial government already reached PHP4 million, including fuel, labor, and rental of equipment.
Alicer said the graveling of the road is already 50 percent complete. The development should have been handled by the national government through the Natural Reservation Development Corporation (NRDC), which was in charge of collecting and allocating of mining share and the issuance of service contracts for miners operating 600 feet above within the 729-hectare area.
Alicer said the province’s initiative was the only way to operate the ball mill. The transfer of the CIP and ball mill plants could take for a year.
There is also the transfer of the 92 settlers who will be affected while 40 of them have been transferred.
The transfer of the batch-type mini CIP and ball/rod mills operated by the small-scale miners to the Mineral Processing Zone at Mabatas area had been recommended by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to the Program Monitoring and Coordinating Center (PMCC) in early 2000 because of high mercury contamination levels in Naboc River.
PMCC is chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director, the barangay captain of Mt. Diwata and the PMDC.
Mt. Diwata barangay captain Pedro Samillano said there were 138 ball mill plants and 48 registered CIP. There were 48 mine tunnels in Mt. Diwata.
Samillano said 70 percent of the 10,400 total population of Mt. Diwata were miners. Samillano bared there were four big miners in Mt. Diwata. The three were JB, Las Vegas, Australia, and Blucor.
Initially, the MGB had listed more or less a hundred mini CIP plants and ball mill establishments in Diwalwal. In an April 2009 inventory in 5 puroks (sub-villages) of Barangay Mt. Diwata, the MGB team inventoried 23 batch-type mini CIP plants with a total of 34 tanks and 11 ball/rod mill establishments with a total of 147 drums.
The inventory on October 2009 for seven puroks in Mt. Diwata showed there were eight batch-type mini CIP plants with a total eight tanks and 30 ball/rod mill establishments with a total of 399 drums.
The team inventoried eight batch-type mini CIP plants with a total of 12 tanks and 12 ball mills with a total of 177 drums in its September 2010 inventory at Sitio Depot.
The relocation to the Mabatas processing zone was necessary because it had the tailings containment facility to avoid and eliminate the direct discharging or throwing of tails/waste from the plants to the waterways; and, as the only lasting and long-term solution to avoid polluting the Naboc River.
The PHP200-million Mabatas dam which was established sometime in 2003 was never used for the gold processing by the small-scale miners.
PMDC was required to rehabilitate the tailings dam facility and develop the Mineral Processing Zone so that operators of the batch-type mini CIP plants and ball mill plants could transfer.
During the groundbreaking of the gold museum in March last year, Compostela Valley provincial government reported the province still holds one of the biggest gold deposits in the Philippines with an estimated gold reserve of 181,745,339 metric tons based on the data from the MGB.
Gold mining sites are found in almost all of the province’s 11 municipalities.
The major mining sites are in Mt. Diwalwal (Mt. Diwata) of Monkayo, the Masara district in Maco, the Boringot-Diyat-Kingking district of Pantukan, the Bukal-Mainit site of Nabunturan, and Bango of Compostela. (PNA)
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