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Safety and Working Conditions in Small-Scale Mining: The Case of Selected Small-Scale Metallic Mines in the Philippines

Hazards in workplaces are common especially in sectors where informal arrangement exists such as in small-scale mining. Although there is a dearth of data on reported injuries, accidents, or casualties, it is of great consideration that problems on safety and working conditions in this sector are addressed given the risks to which workers are exposed. Focusing on the six mine sites from four provinces in the Philippines, this research examines the existing policies and regulations that govern mine safety and the working conditions of those engaged in small-scale mining. This study uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative research tools for data-gathering. Results of the study indicate that: (a) the definition of small-scale mining in the Philippines needs to be revisited given the gaps between the definition and practices in terms of mode of extraction; (b) varied safety measures and practices are undertaken by different small-scale mining communities, and (c) labor standards and social protection concerns are not so much emphasized as compared to the challenges pertaining to legalization requirements and processes. Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that safety and health policies and programmes should be formulated in consideration with the context within which the small-scale miners are situated. There could be a progressive adoption of rules in line with the International Labour Organization (ILO)Convention No. 176 that must be done but on case to case basis and in consultation with whom the rules are to be implemented. Lastly, there should be convergence among concerned agencies, especially at the local level, in line with the harmonization of policies on safety and other issues faced by small-scale mining communities toward their formalization.


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