The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) led the dismantling of various illegal mining equipment during a series of operations conducted against small-scale mining activities in Quezon town, Nueva Vizcaya province from July 27 to 29.

The joint operations which were carried out by MGB-Region 2, DENR Region 2, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office-Nueva Vizcaya, Community Environment and Natural Resources Office-Aritao, National Bureau of Investigation-Region 2, Philippine National Police, and Armed Forces of the Philippines, in coordination with FCF Minerals Corporation, cracked down on ball mills, shafting, diesel engines, pulleys, and other equipment used in illegal small-scale mining activities at Barangay Runruno.

"In the case of illegal small-scale mining, miners tend to dig and drill with no proper control on extractive operations. These unregulated mining activities pose dangers to the environment, and even to human lives," said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

MGB-Region 2 Director Mario A. Ancheta said the absence of documents, permits, or authority in the conduct of mining operations and the transport of minerals/mineral products and by-products will be considered as prima facie evidence of illegal mining.

"This shall cause the seizure/confiscation of the minerals/mineral products and by-products and the tools, conveyances, and equipment used in the commission of the offense in favor of the government," Ancheta pointed out.

Prior to the operation, MGB-Region 2 directed an investigation of the ongoing small-scale mining operations within the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) contract area of mining firm FCF Minerals Corporation.

MGB said that the said firm has not yet utilized or developed the said area.

Given the location, Ancheta pointed out that the mining area cannot be declared as a "Minahang Bayan" site.

He added that despite constant dialogues and warnings, the small-scale miners, who were identified to be illegal settlers, continued to defy the MGB's order to vacate and leave the area.

The MGB-Region 2 served cease-and-desist orders against the illegal mining activities last July 7 to 9.

"I have previously proposed to these illegal miners to look for other areas that can be applied for as Minahang Bayan since this area is prohibited. However, they continue to extract the area," Ancheta said.

Charges will be filed against the miners for violation of Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and RA 7076 or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991.

The implementing rules and regulations of RA 7076 state that: "No small-scale mining shall be undertaken outside a Minahang Bayan and that no entity shall engage in small-scale mining without a small-scale mining contract."

MGB-Region 2 has been monitoring the activities in the area since a landslide occurred on Nov. 13, 2020. It has previously recommended to the local government of Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya to relocate the illegal settlers. ###