Artisanal and small-scale gold mining

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining baseline report: Camarines Norte and South Cotabato

The artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) baseline profile report aims to assess the current environmental, social and economic conditions in ASGM in the Philippines. The study covers three mining municipalities, including Labo and Paracale in Camarines Norte and T’boli in South Cotabato.

South Cotabato and Camarines Norte both have rich mining histories. The ASGM sector in Camarines Norte traces its roots back to pre-colonial times, with early settlers already trading gold with Chinese merchants long before the Spanish occupation in the Philippines. On the other hand, T’boli’s ASGM sector is relatively young – mining settlements only started forming after pyrite was discovered in water bodies around the municipality in the 1970s.

Both areas have significant mining populations with mine workers utilizing almost identical mining practices and gold processing procedures. However, the main difference lies in the fact that the ASGM sector in Camarines Norte is largely informal, such as small-scale mining in the province is considered illegal, and is thus, unmonitored and unregulated. In comparison, T’boli has a locally recognized Minahang Bayan. Although national recognition is yet to be given to T’boli, local declaration has translated to a number of government programmes and projects that have improved the lives of miners in the area.