Along with many other countries, in recent decades the Philippines –have witnessed a dramatic expansion of small-scale mining (SSM), mostly (but not exclusively)in the form of small-scale gold mining. As can be seen in the graph, official gold production from SSM has repeatedly surpassed that of large-scale metallic mining. While SSM istaking place throughout the country, its presence is particularly dramatic in the Cordillera mountain range in Luzon and in the uplands of eastern Mindanao, with Compostela Valley province acting as the self-proclaimed ‘gold mining capital of the Philippines’. Despite this massive expansion, however, SSM continues to be shrouded in controversy and misunderstanding. This short piece offers a view from below, based on long-term research inside the country’s mining areas, and attempts to undermine some of the myths that exist about the sector.
About the Authors:
Dr. Boris Verbrugge has recently (May 2015) obtained his PhD from Ghent University, Belgium. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at Radboud University, Netherlands. His research deals with small-scale gold mining in the Philippines, particularly in eastern Mindanao. In total, he spent 10 months of field research in the Philippines, including in Compostela Valley province, Benguet, Agusan del Norte, South Cotabato, and North Cotabato. Throughout this research, Boris has interviewed over 175 people, including small-scale miners, government officials, local politicians, local landowners, mining financiers, NGO workers, and academics. Throughout, he was assisted by different NGOs, research institutes (including AFRIM, the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao), and Bantay Kita.
Ms. Beverly “Bon” Besmanos is taking her Masters Degree in Anthropology at the Ateneo de Davao University, Philippines. She works with Bantay Kita-Publish What You Pay-Philippines as Subnational Coordinator for MIndanao. Bon was formerly employed by the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao. Her vast work experience with communities, local and national governments, and industry hasgiven her an exceptional understanding of mine-related regulations, policies, and programs, and the challenges of implementation on the ground. Ms. Besmanos has conducted research for several mining-related studies, including this one.