Small scale mining equipment

Small scale mining equipment

Despite the efforts of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau to collect all related information on small-scale mining operations, reliable statistical information is still lacking. Therefor figures, data and other information could only be generated through estimates An attempt to generate a summary of information (Annex 6) on the country’s small-sc l mining sector indicates that it provides direct and indirect employment and means o livelihood to nearly 200,000 people.Service online

Status, Role and Importance of Small-scale Mining in the Country

Based on this figure, it is estimated that the same sect supports at least one million of the country’s population, or one in every 70 Filipinos. It i also estimated that the small-scale mining sector generates or supports at least 20,000 forma and informal small enterprises and businesses. In addition to the information provided in Annex 6, some of the general features of the small-scale mining sector of the Philippines include the following: • Small-scale miners in the country include individuals and family groups doing mining at subsistence level or as a business and established mining companies. It is estimated that 75 per cent are in subsistence mining, 15 per cent are small individual or family businesses and the remaining 10 per cent are established commercial mining firms. • Most of the subsistence miners are involved in gold mining and sand and gravel extraction while individual or family mining businesses are in aggregates and industrial minerals (feldspar, silica, limestone). Established mining companies are not limited to specific mineral products. • The small-scale mining sector is known to have contributed 40–50 per cent of the Country’s total gold production during the period from 1990 to 1999. This percentage is believed to have been a major factor in recent closures of large gold-mining operations. • Because of existing legislation, the level of investment for small-scale mining operations is limited to 10 million pesos (about US$200,000). At the bottom end of the sector, the miners may have limited or no monetary investment at all apart from their own labour. • Technology employed include traditional pick-and-shovel concerns to mechanised and sophisticated operations which use the same methods as large mining companies, as in the case of gold processing and extraction.

Operating Practices

Mining practices of small-scale miners are mostly open-cast or quarrying operations. Underground mining (stoping) methods are also commonly practised in the gold mines. Processing methods applied by small-scale miners in sand and gravel operations as well as in industrial mineral (feldspar, silica and lime) productions are generally limited to screening (sizing) and sorting, which include both manual and mechanized units of operations. Gold-processing techniques include the more sophisticated gold-recovery methods involving cyanide digestion followed by precipitation with zinc dust or with activated carbon. Otherwise the general method of gold recovery is by a gravity-concentration process using pans and sluice boxes. An amalgamation process is also applied particularly in gold-rush areas.

Small scale mining equipment

Published Works on Small-scale Mining

Despite the long history of small-scale mining in the country, particularly in the extraction and production of gold, there is very little published information pertaining the sector. The initial findings are shown in Annex 10. Some of the few and relevant contributions of this author to the list include the following: • An Introductory Manual on Gold Processing, 1988; an unpublished compilation meant as a guide for miners which was prepared at the request of small-scale gold- miners’ associations. • Women are Active in Small-scale Mining in Northern Philippines, 1998; a paper prepared for the UNI/INRA Workshop on Constraints Faced by Women in the Mining Industry, Lusaka, Zambia, October 27–9, 1998. • Workshop Report – UNIDO Phase 1: Assistance in Reducing Mercury Emissions in Highly Contaminated Gold-mining Areas in Mindanao, Philippines, 1999; an account of the training component of the project. • Kias Gold Mine, Small-scale Gold Mining: Examples from Bolivia, Philippines and Zambia, 1999; ILO working paper. The Small-scale Mining Unit of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau at its head office in Manila is working hard to compile relevant information but is faced with logistical constraints. The easiest means of collecting information regarding the sector, therefore, is through the individuals who are involved in the very sector. In addition to this author the other key contact people who can be readily contacted for information on the subject are shown in Annex 11. Most of them work at the Mines and Geoscience Bureau.


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