Edmonton’s MINDORO RESOURCES has initiated a co-operative program with small-scale miners at its Surigao del Norte project on Mindanao, the Philippines. The local mayor, provincial governor and the Philippine mines and geosciences bureau are all on-side.
The goal appears to be to recognize that artisanal gold miners can co-exist with a modern mining operation. The search for gold is a traditional employment of local people, but since Mindoro discovered high-grade copper mineralization on its Masgad prospect at the Tapian San Francisco property, the locals have switched to the hunt for copper. No matter the desired metal, the small-scale miners lack the money or regulatory knowledge to secure mining permits. Their operations remain unauthorized and unregulated, with predictable negative environmental effects.
Mindoro’s program calls for its Philippine partner, which holds 25% of the Surigao project, to apply for small-scale mining permits to cover the areas where the artisanal miners are active. A local contractor has been chosen to hold the permits and lead the co-op that will look into which individual miners belong. Thus organized and regulated, artisanal miners will be operating in a responsible manner.
Some highlights of the operating agreement include the following:
– The local contractor must comply with the regulations of the small-scale mining permit.
– Only picks and shovels will be allowed. There will be no chemicals, heavy equipment or blasting.
– Landowners will receive fair compensation if their property is mined.
– Safety, health and environmental regulations will be enforced, and monitoring will be allowed by government agencies.
– The agreement covers only mining of copper and related metals, not the nickel laterites that are found in the area.
– Mindoro and its partner retain their right to explore and develop large-scale mining activities on the leases they hold.
– Mindoro and the mining contractor will initiate social and environmental programs in the communities impacted by the small-scale mining operations. Already 40 scholarships have been awarded to local students.
– Mindoro and its partner will receive a 5% royalty, which Mindoro intends to use to help pay for the development and monitoring programs.
Mindoro’s initiative has merit for several reasons. It is supportive of local industry, not disruptive. Landowners are compensated. The workplace health and safety of the miners is improved. The environmental effects of artisanal mining will be mitigated. Modern mining is not prohibited.
If there is a new large-scale copper-gold mine to be developed on the Tapian San Francisco claims, Mindoro will have already established its social licence to operate it. Not many companies operate with such foresight, but they should.
For more information about Mindoro’s Surigao project, read the technical report posted at www.Mindoro.com.