DOST sets-up nontoxic processing plant

DAVAO CITY, Philippines —  The Department of Science and Technology (DOST)- Region XI has set up a non-cyanide, non-mercury processing plant for the extraction of gold and copper in Compostela Valley Province.

DOST 11 Regional Director Dr. Anthony Sales bared the P50-million worth project called ‘Bettermine’ aims to encourage the small- scale miners not to use cyanide and mercury in extracting minerals. “This is just a physical process,” Sales said.

Sales said the DOST gave this technology since these chemicals being used by the miners in their extraction polluted the rivers and contaminate the food supply in the region.

“One of the consequences of the use of mercury and cyanide is the pollution of our rivers. Studies have shown that the heavy metals already reached our food supplies. It is already in Davao Gulf and even on the rice grown along the river,” he said.

He pointed that in the same project in Benguet, it was found that the said technology resulted to the production of better mineral products compared to the usual way of extraction using harmful chemicals.

“The small-scale miners can get a bigger income if they will use this technology, and the other benefit is you don’t pollute the environment,” he said.

“This technology will not also harm the workers unlike the use of two common chemicals since these are known to be volatile if it evaporates. If these will be inhaled by the workers there will be no effect on health,” Sales added.

The DOST 11 partnered with the Nabunturan Integrated Miners Development Cooperative (NIMDC) as part of the management committee for the pilot plant. He said members of the cooperative are very optimistic on the project.

Sales said the processing plant which was launched on November 23, was installed in the town of Nabunturan. In the next three months, field testing on the technology developed by the Department of Mining, Metallurgy and Mineral of University of the Philippines – Diliman will be conducted.

“We need to commission the equipment to ensure that the product they will be getting is really optimized and also to ensure that the equipment really works properly,” he added. After the commissioning and testing, the facility will be turned-over to the provincial government.-Armando Fenequito Jr