Three small-scale mining operators in the town of Itogon said Friday they are committed to put up appropriate safety nets to ensure that their operations will not affect the environment and health of their neighbors.

This developed after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), together with representatives from the Provincial Government of Benguet and the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENR) reiterated a June 9, 2005 cease and desist order issued by Benguet Governor Borromeo Melchor against Ucab small-scale mining operators Jerry Bumidang, Alfredo Valenciano and Francis Ugnayon.

The order was given after it was learned from the report of the Provincial Board (PB) committee on environment and natural resources dated last June 1 that the mining operations were without permits. "Since you have not secured a permit for your operation, the same is patently illegal and unlawful in violation of the Revised Benguet Revenue Code," Melchor told the concerned miners.

The stop order will not be implemented in full after it was agreed during Friday's talks among the concerned operators, the complaining residents, the DENR-MGB and representatives of the Provincial Government and local government that safety nets would be put in place to assure the protection of the environment and health of neighboring households. On the case of Bumidang, he would close the plant and ensure that wastewater would not leak from his place of operation to the nearby road.

The same is true for Valenciano. The team, meanwhile, found out that Ugnayon already stopped the operation of the ball mill and leaching pad following a petition signed by about 50 Ucab residents last Oct. 24, 2004. Barangay Ucab Chairman Bernard Waclin said 85 to 90 percent of the more than 6,000 town residents are into small-scale mining.