Small-Scale Mining in the Philippines: a Case Study

4263 Words Apr 6th, 2013 18 Pages
(Lives at risk in the Philippine Gold Mines)


Gold is the number one mineral produced by the Philippines in value terms. Although total local production was low relative to world production, it ranked 2nd to Africa in gold production per unit land area in 1988 and ranked 29th as top gold producer in 2002(Israel and Asirot 2002). In the year 2002–2007, the Philippines’ gold production increased by 8.2%. This contributed an average of 2% gross domestic product (GDP) in the same period. The country was ranked 18th in the GFMs Gold Survey list of top 20 Gold Producing countries in 2007 (Teves 2008). The 2008 and 2009 data of the Philippine mining Almanac showed a significant amount of gold production by the
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1995). High levels of mercury pollution were found on-site as well as in the affected places downstream. Williams et al. specifically asserted that there were already considerable mercury loads in some sectors of the Agusan River, where Diwalwal drains into, and that the water samples from the mining site itself showed higher concentrations than those in the other gold rush areas in the world.

Although studies on the impact of mercury pollution due to small-scale mining were already numerous, they were generally technical in nature. Few works touched on the economic aspects of the problem and did so only in a superficial and summary manner. So far, there is no available study that conducted an economic analysis in a more detailed and quantitative way in the Philippines or elsewhere.

Small-scale mining is not an important public revenue-generating sector for the government at present because of its largely illegal nature. Viewed in a more positive light, the activity should become a solid tax base when fully licensed, given the large number of people and economic activities dependent on it.


The earliest mining law in the Philippines was Commonwealth Act 137 promulgated in 1936. This legislation had no separate provision for small-scale mining since the activity was not practiced extensively then. It took effect for many years until the martial law era when it was amended through Presidential Decree
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