The Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board of Negros Oriental will look into the reports of illegal gold mining activities in the mountainous barangay of Catipon, in Siaton town, tomorrow.
This was decided at the recent meeting of the Board on the actions to be taken by the local government, Siaton Councilor Salome Lagos, chair of the Council Committee on Environment said, adding that one option is to apply for tenureship with the government, and establish a regulated “minahan ng bayan,” or a common small-scale mining operation.
She, however, also said the proposal needs careful study so lives and the environment are protected.
Consultations with various stakeholders will be conducted to set the parameters in addressing the problem in Catipon, she said.
The area, where the unlawful excavations for gold dust and nuggets are reportedly being done, is believed to be timberland and owned by the government.
Mario Aragon, chief of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, had confirmed that the area is classified as forested.
The gold mining activity was initially reported late January and Siaton Mayor Albert Ator had ordered a verification after several residents admitted to having extracted gold dust and nuggets from various open pits in Catipon.
Two families also claimed ownership of the land earlier, even after officials ordered a stop to the excavation.
A series of trainings in the barangays is also going on as part of the effort to map out its forest land use plan, Lagos added.*JFP
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