The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued Administrative Order No. 2022-03 (“DAO 2022-03”) which takes effect on 29 April 2022, ensuring a more effective and expeditious implementation of the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act, introducing a more orderly and systematic procedure, and regulating the small-scale mining industry with a view of enhancing its growth and productivity in an environmentally safe manner.
Pursuant to DAO 2022-03, the processes for declaring an area as Minahang Bayan, also known as an area suitable for small-scale mining, begins by filing a Petition with the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board (“Board”). The Board then forwards the Petition to the Regional Office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (“MGB RO”) and, in turn, the MGB RO checks if the area meets the criteria under the law. If the area is found to be viable for small-scale mining, the MGB RO endorses the petition to the MGB Central Office (“MGB CO”). The Petition is then endorsed to the DENR Secretary and the latter conducts its initial review of the proposal. Once approved, and if there is no adverse claim, protest, or opposition to the petition, the MGB CO then checks the completion of the requirements and endorses the Petition for Secretary’s clearance. The DENR then conducts the final review and releases the DENR Declaration clearance through the MGB CO. Finally, the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board then declares the area as Minahang Bayan upon submission of the Environmental Compliance Certificate.
Applicants to enter a small-scale mining contract are required to submit certain requirements under the law, which includes the submission of a location map and sketch plan of the proposed small-scale mining area, proposed small-scale mining contract, and proposed two-year program. Thereafter, the Board processes and evaluates the application. If the proposed area does not meet the requirements under the law, the application is revised and submitted to the Board. But if the area is viable, the Board awards the Small-Scale Mining Contract to the applicant.
DAO 2022-03 also includes provisions to ensure environmental protection, community development, and the enforcement of safety and health programs. Among others, a small-scale mining contractor is required to submit a two-year Potential Environmental Impact Management Plan and a Community Development and Management Plan which shall be prepared in partnership with the host and neighboring communities. An Annual Safety and Health Program must also be submitted at the start of every calendar year. To cover for environmental damage, the Administrative Order provides procedures to be followed in the creation of a Mine Wastes Dump and Tailings Storage Facility and the annual collection of mine and tailing fees.
Violation of the Administrative Order results in administrative, civil, or criminal liability under existing laws.