By KRIZIA ANN P. ALBERTO       NOVEMBER 24, 2014

Technical personnel of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region IVA (CALABARZON)  together with representatives of PMRB-Rizal Environment and Natural Resource Office (RENRO), PENRO-Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) , DENR IVA – PAWD and City Environment and Waste Management Office (CEWMO) Antipolo City recently conducted field investigation on the reported existence of Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) activities within the Marikina Watershed, specifically  in two (2) areas at Sitio San Ysiro and Purok Tayabasan. Pursuant to the directive of Regional Director Samuel T. Paragas to investigate on the subject matter, it was found out that ASGM Operations were active in the said areas. A Cease of Desist Order was issued to Mr. Francisco Bruce, active illegal gold mining operator in Purok Libis, Sitio San Ysiro.

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Active ASGM area in Purok Libis, Sitio San Ysiro

Cited on the study published by the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance entitled “Small-scale gold mining in critical watersheds of the Southern Sierra Madre Mountain Range” are three (3) ASGM methods extensively used and the issues and concerns in relation to the reported illegal mining. The simplest and most common method is gold-panning or “dulang”. The second method is digging and rechanneling of riverbanks or “barkis”. The third method is tunneling. Issues and concerns are (1) use of mercury, (2) mining site fall under the category of “No-Go Mining Zones”, (3) agricultural farms being converted to mining sites.

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As per interview with Mr. Claude Casilla, Sitio San Ysiro Chairman, it was admitted that ASGM operations were active in four areas: (1) Purok Libis, Sitio San Ysiro, (2) Purok Casunugan, Sitio San Ysiro, (3) Purok Calumay, Sitio San Ysiro and (4) Purok Tayabasan. As per field investigation, only gold panning or “dulang” is used in the said areas. Digging and rechanneling of  riverbeds or “Barkis” and Tunneling were not observed in the mine site at Purok Libis, Sitio San Ysiro. No operation within the riverbed was observed. However conversions of agricultural farms to mining sites are evident in Purok Libis, Sitio San Ysiro. No mercury is used in the extraction of gold from the panning or screening. Further, the area falls under the category of “No-Go Mining Zones”. A follow-up investigation in the areas particularly  in Purok Calumay and Sitio Tayabasan will be conducted as soon as weather condition permits since the aforecited areas were not accessible during the investigation.

 

Actual digging of previously agricultural land to extract gold

 

Rehabilitated Mined Area

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