Pioneering Mercury-free Gold Processing Facility in Northern Mindanao Launched

Mar 2020

The Secretary of the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST-Philippines) Fortunato de la Pena recently led the inauguration of a common service facility (CSF) for artisanal small-scale gold mining in Iligan City, Northern Mindanao. With the aim of addressing health risks of small-scale miners, the pilot plant is designed to have safe, Environment-friendly, and high-yielding methods of extracting gold and address Environmental issues caused by improper waste disposal by small-scale gold miners who use mercury and cyanide in retrieving gold. Small scale miners contribute up to 75% of the country’s gold production.

A team of engineers led by Prof. Ephraim Ibarra from the Iligan Institute of Technology of the Mindanao State University (MSU-IIT) designed and developed the plant and started working on it since 2015. The gold processing plant is made possible through the support of the DOST-PCIEERD.

The plant can process 3.0 tons of run-of-mine gold ore for eight hours a day. In addition to the operation of the common service facility the following are expected to follow soon:

  • Setting up of a similar facility on site where Indigenous Peoples (IP) in the area depends on small scale mining. This will be a collaboration among DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 10, DOST 10, MSU-IIT, the private sector helping IPs and the IP’s cooperative under the “Minahan ng Bayan” Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
  • Adoption of the process/technology by mining firms in operation in order to eliminate the use of mercury and cyanide.
  • Much improved condition of the land where different valuable plant species are cultivated.

In terms of livelihood, the mining industry contributes to economic growth through taxes, fees and royalties. In 2017, the gross value added to mining and quarrying improved by 5.4 percent while national and local taxes, fees and royalties generated and contributed by the mining industry amounted to PHP 25.54 (~USD 500 million) billion.

(Source: Department of Science and Technology, Philippines)

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