News / Asia

Philippines' Gold Mining Regulations Cause Problems for Local Prospectors

A Filipino miner pushes a cart containing sacks of mineral muck ore in the Compostela Valley, southern Philippines. May 24, 2012
A Filipino miner pushes a cart containing sacks of mineral muck ore in the Compostela Valley, southern Philippines. May 24, 2012
Prospero Laput
Gold mining has long been a risky business, with prospectors gambling with their lives in search of riches. In the Philippines, the government hopes to reduce the risk and increase profits by banning the most dangerous practices, lowering the number of small operators and replacing them with big, foreign firms.
 
Illegal mines in the Philippine gold town of Paracale claimed many lives before the government shut them down in 2012. However, despite the ban, some compressor-mining operations are still active, sending divers to dig for ore in unstable tunnels below the riverbed. 
 
The process underwater is similar to the risky techniques illegal operators use on land. Workers carve tunnels without proper support, even digging through stone pillars. As a result, deadly cave-ins are not uncommon.
 
Chita Magbanua, who used to run an illegal mine in the area, says miners look at it as an adventure.
 
“Is there a tunnel without danger? But because it’s an adventure, for money, people risk if it is about money,” said Magbanua.
 
The Philippine government is eager to profit from the country’s gold, but wants to improve safety and raise revenues. 
 
In recent years, authorities have welcomed big mining operators, such as Canadian-owned TVI Resources Development, which extracts copper, zinc, silver and gold in the southern island of Mindanao.
 
TVI is expected to provide better protection of the environment and workers while still increasing revenue. John Ridsdel, formerly chief operating officer with TVI, said increasing revenue and safety can be a steep challenge in the rural parts of the Philippines.
 
“When a mining operation goes into pretty anywhere in our country, you are going into an area where the state is absent, there are no roads, there are no doctors, there are no nurses, there are no health clinics, there are no schools, there are no police, there are no judges, there's none of that stuff or very little,” said Ridsdel, outlining the difficulties mine operations face.
 
He says mining operators end up providing some of these basic services. TVI reports spending some $2 million a year on community outreach and reforestation efforts. Mining companies also paid more than half a billion dollars in taxes to the Philippine government in 2011.
 
To further boost revenues, the government is planning to raise taxes. Foreign mining firms have responded by cutting back on spending and holding open positions promised to illegal miners.
 
In Paracale, miners worry that with their risky methods banned, and the foreign companies suspending hiring, they have few options to provide for their families.

Philippines' Gold Mining Regulations Cause Friction With Prospectorsi
X
September 25, 2013 6:12 AM
Gold mining has long been a risky business, with prospectors gambling with their lives in search of riches. In the Philippines, the government hopes to reduce the risk and increase profits by banning the most dangerous practices, lowering the number of small operators and replacing them with big, foreign firms.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs