Artisanal Gold Council Philippines

Address: AGC Philippines Office - 3rd Floor, New Multi-Purpose Bldg. DENR MGB Compound, North Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila
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1. What is the AGC currently working on?

AGC Philippines: Revolutionizing Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining

AGC Philippines is currently the executing agency for the planetGOLD (Global Opportunities for the Long-term Development of the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining Sector) Philippines – a five-year project designed to address key issues linked to continued mercury use in the sector.

The planetGOLD Philippines is funded by the Global Environment Facility Project and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the United Nations Environment Program, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). The project was launched in 2019 at two pilot sites: Sagada, Mt. Province, and Paracale, Camarines Norte.

Key components of the project are:

  • Formalization: Bridging local ASGM workers into the formal economy fosters sector professionalization. This component enhances governmental monitoring to better oversee miners, and allow miners to better access government incentives.
  • Access to Finance and Markets: Establishing sustainable financial opportunities for local artisanal and small-scale gold miners, improving linkage to both local gold markets and international gold investors.
  • Better Technology and Techniques: Improving local mining performance with productivity-enhancing, mercury-free technologies, and management techniques
  • Knowledge Management: Showcasing of Filipino game-changers and success stories to both national and global audiences, enabling communities to benefit from shared experiences and insights garnered from other projects.

2. Community Brief/Project Sites

National Government
The Philippines is a country known for its richness in natural resources, including significant deposits of gold. Currently, the Philippines is ranked as the world’s 27th largest producer of gold with 161.6 tonnes of gold reserves as of May 2021 based on reports of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and compilation of the World Gold Council. Additionally, the  DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) reported in 2011 that 80% of the annual gold reserves were produced through ASGM; making the Philippines home to an estimated 500,000 miners operating in the ASGM sector. With the thriving ASGM sector in the Philippines comes the responsibility of the national government to ensure a safer, cleaner, and more equitable ASGM industry in the country. As the executing agency of the planetGOLD Philippines, AGC Philippines partnered with various national government agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Health (DoH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and more to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the project.

Sagada, Mountain Province
Sagada, formerly known as "Ganduyan", is a 5th class municipality in Mountain Province with agriculture as its main source of livelihood. Tourism also boosts the local economy as it is blessed with several natural resources such as caves, limestone mountains, rice terraces, falls and lakes, among others. Sagada is also known for their historic hanging coffins and cliffs that come with a sea of clouds. ASGM operations in Barangay Fidelisan became well-known in the 1970s. The continuous engagement of the Indigenous People of Sagada in ASGM has influenced their traditions, economic activities, and social organization in the traditional mining community. ASGM in Fidelisan is determined by customary laws passed on to generations covering equitable sharing, cooperation, and community solidarity. The community has also developed an environment-friendly and responsible method of mining–eliminating the use of mercury and other chemicals permanently. ASGM activities in Sagada are centralized in Barangay Fidelisan where there is a declared Minahang Bayan covering 10 hectares. AGC Philippines, through the planetGOLD Philippines project, supports the Northern Barangay Sagada Small-Scale Miners Association, Inc. (NSBSSMAI), which is the only small-scale mining association that has a contract to legally operate in the area. As of January 2024, NSBSSMAI has 264 members.

Paracale, Camarines Norte
Paracale is a third-class municipality of Camarines Norte. Its name was derived from para cale, meaning "canal digger." Paracale has been recognized as a “gold town” for being one of the largest historical gold producing regions in the Philippines. Paracale's residents recognize and celebrate the town's identity and embrace it as a source of pride. The town emblem of Paracale features a miner's hat, pickaxe, and shovel, symbolizing the importance of gold mining, alongside a symbol of a fish and a boat, symbolizing the town’s popularity as a fishing spot and tourist destination for its sandy beaches. At present, mining activities are scattered throughout the 27 barangays of the municipality of Paracale, with the majority of the population involved in ASGM. It is estimated that over half of the total population of Paracale are engaged in small-scale mining, either as a mine worker, financier, processor, independent gold panner, or in the many support services business. Many residents choose to work in different aspects of ASGM to gain financial independence and acquire new wealth. Currently, there is one declared Minahang Bayan area in Paracale, particularly in Sitio Maning, Barangay Casalugan, which covers around 26 hectares of land. The Samahan ng mga Minero sa Barangay Casalugan (SMBC) is the mining association that has active operations within the Minahang Bayan, and is also the beneficiary of the planetGOLD Philippines project. SMBC has 390 members as of January 2024.

3. Integrating miners into the formal economy

The AGC Philippines is dedicated to bridging the gap between localASGM workers and the formal economy, thereby fostering sector professionalization and facilitating greater access to government incentives. 

Key Initiatives:

  • Conducting a comprehensive assessment of the legal framework governing the ASGM sector and identifying issues related to illicit financial flows
  • Creating the DENR-MGB Core Group of Trainers for the Small-scale Mining Sector. Training of Trainers were conducted including streamlining of documentary forms for ASGM-related transactions such as petitions for Minahang Bayan declarations, Small-scale Mining Contract and Mineral Processor’s License applications
  • Organizing a series of policy workshops with partner government offices, including provincial planning workshops in the project sites, to develop action plans for the formalization of the ASGM sector and discuss potential amendments to the small-scale mining law
  • Development of a Knowledge Management Platform for small-scalle miners, which is envisioned to be a one-stop shop where miners can engage and facilitate small-scale mining-related applications with relevant government agencies
  • Gender Mainstreaming: Conducting gender analysis of the Philippine ASGM sector, creating policy briefs on Gender Mainstreaming in ASGM, and organizing workshops and training sessions to promote gender equality and empower women in the mining industry
  • Assistance to small-scale mining associations in meeting government requirements to legally conducted their mining operations

Through these concerted efforts, AGC Philippines is actively advancing towards its goal of integrating miners into the formal economy, thereby contributing significantly to the sustainable development of the ASGM sector in the Philippines.

4. Enabling its access to finance and formal gold markets

Access to Finance

The AGC Philippines, through the planetGOLD Philippines project, aims to promote hybrid debt and equity financing for the partner mining associations. This will involve collateralizing supplier agreements and establishing a social enterprise to create a small-scale mining (SSM) fund.

  • Supplier agreement: In close collaboration with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), AGC Philippines is drafting a supplier agreement to ensure that extracted gold from SSM is sold to the formal market. This agreement shall serve a dual purpose, acting as collateral for mining organizations seeking loans from formal financial institutions.
  • Social Enterprise: The social enterprise will be established to manage the social investment aimed at improving local operating conditions by adopting environmentally sound and efficient technologies. It will facilitate the inclusion of investors injecting capital into the MFPS to support operational expenses, expansion, or other identified purposes, as well as the management of a small-scale mining (SSM) fund that can contribute to various social causes, ranging from mining to other communities.

Access to Formal Gold Markets

To ensure that gold extracted from small-scale mining (SSM) operations flows through the formal supply chain, continuous initiatives are underway to establish linkages between partner mining associations and formal markets. AGC Philippines has been actively assisting gold traders and miners in registering as gold sellers to the BSP, which serves as the formal end market for gold from SSM in the Philippines. Through this process, they have also availed tax exemptions by submitting sufficient legal requirements. Additionally, coordination with Cebuana Lhuillier, a local microfinancial institution, is ongoing for the implementation of their sandbox project. Under this initiative, Cebuana Lhuillier will act as an accredited gold trader under the BSP Gold Buying Program. With their extensive network of almost 3,500 branches nationwide, gold buying will be made more accessible for small-scale miners.

Anchored to the vision of supporting an environmentally sound and socially responsible Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector, AGC Philippines has advocated for the adoption of the planetGOLD criteria standard. This standard is a branched version of the CRAFT Code (Code of Risk Mitigation for Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Engaging in Formal Trade) aimed at derisking the supply chain, which will eventually increase access to the formal gold market and attract investments. Through the planetGOLD Philippines project, partner mining associations are supported in adopting effective management systems, creating risk mitigation plans, and conducting monitoring by producing monthly and semi-annual reports. Morevover, a technical working group consists of different government agencies is formed for guiding, monitoring, and sustaining the implementation during and after the project lifespan.

Together with the BSP, training sessions on due diligence and formal gold trading were provided to the partner mining associations to equip them with knowledge obout the planetGOLD criteria, the CRAFT Code, and the BSP Gold Buying and Sourcing Policy.

As an effort to facilitate connection among social investors, responsible gold producers, and relevant government agencies, the AGC Philippines participated the following local and international events:

  • Prospector and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) from 5 to 8 March 2023 in Toronto, Canada
  • Organization for Economic Operation and Development (OECD) Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains from 24 to 28 April 2023 at the OECD Headquarters in Paris
  • 2023 Mining Philippines International Conference and Exhibition from 19 to 20 September 2023 in Manila, Philippines
  • 3rd National Coalition Small-Scale Mining Association, Inc. (NCSSMAI) Assembly from 28 to 30 July 2023 in Baguio City, Philippines
  • 4th National Coalition Small-Scale Mining Association, Inc. (NCSSMAI) Assembly from 2 to 5 August 2023 in South Cotabato Philippines

5. Establishing a mercury-free processing plant

The AGC Philippines, through its technology transfer component of planetGOLD Philippines project, seeks to systematically curtail the reliance on mercury and enhance operational efficiencies of ore in small-scale mining by introducing and deploying environmentally responsible practices, methodologies, and technologies.Based on the assessment of the project site and the current knowledge, skills, and practices of the local stakeholders, a centralized Mercury-Free Processing System (MFPS) was designed.
The installed MFPS for Paracale (MFPS-1) employs improved gravity concentration methods (consists of a helicoidal concentrator, a centrifugal concentrator and a shaking table) and chemical leaching using a cyanide-amino acid mixture. The facility can process around 3.5 metric tons per day, recovering gold at a rate of no less than 80%. Tailings is detoxified using sodium metabisulfite before impounding to the tailings storage facility (TSF).
On the other hand, the MFPS for Sagada (MFPS-2) consists of a purely gravity concentration method using shaking tables and sluicing launders. No chemical leaching processes were installed in this facility as Sagada opposes the use of any chemical in gold recovery. The MFPS is expected to be commissioned and fully operational in the later part of the 2nd quarter of 2024. Operational and management training and seminars will also be provided for the members/miners working within the MFPS.
Since the MFPS-2 is designed to recover free gold only, gold locked in other minerals will most likely report to the tailings. To extract the gold unrecovered, the tailings will be sent to an operational cyanide leaching facility in Itogon, Benguet, which is a five (5)-hour drive from Sagada, Mountain Province. The project team will assist the Loacan Itogon Pocket Miners Association (LIPMA) – a small-scale mining association also operating within a Minahang Bayan – in increasing the capacity of their cyanidation tanks to accommodate the intermediate tailings from Sagada.

6. Conducting Capacity Development Activities

Recognizing the crucial significance of collaboration in realizing sustainable development objectives, the Project has actively pursued partnerships with academic institutions, governmental bodies, and non-governmental organizations. This strategic endeavor is designed to enhance the efficacy of capacity development initiatives by capitalizing on the distinctive strengths and expertise of each partner. The primary objective is to foster a holistic and impactful learning environment that caters to the diverse requirements of the project sites.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) through the planetGOLD Philippines project, Camarines Norte State College (CNSC), and Mountain Province State Polytechnic College. This ceremonial signing represents a significant milestone that reflects.the shared commitment of the Project and the 2 academe partners to foster community transformation through targeted capacity-building activities aligned with the needs of small-scale mining.

The capacity development series includes the following training sessions: Entrepreneurial Skills Training for Women, Organizational Development and Leadership Training for Women, Strategic Development Planning Workshop and Basic Business Management Training, Leadership Training, Occupational First Aid and Emergency Management Training, Primary Health Care Training, and Financial Skills and Basic Business Management Training.

7. Awareness Raising Activities, Platforms & Products

Behind the Gold Rush: A Photo Exhibition Featuring People Advocating for the Advancement of Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) in the Philippines
Behind the Gold Rush is an exhibition series that aims to recognize and celebrate the contributions of ASGM Champions across different sectors–from the national and local government, non-government, private, academe, and the mining communities themselves.

The Gold Talk: Sa Responsableng Pagmimina, Lahat Giginhawa
The Gold Talk is the first-ever radio program in the Philippines that focuses on the news, issues, and trends in the ASGM sector.

Youth for Responsible Gold: Fostering Communities towards a Safer, Cleaner, and More Equitable ASGM Sector
Recognizing the essential role of schools in communicating ASGM and educating SSM communities for catalyzing positive change in the sector, AGC Philippines–through the planetGOLD Philippines project–conducted the Youth for Responsible Gold Educational Roadshow. The Roadshow represents an innovative and targeted approach to tackling opportunities and challenges for development within the ASGM sector–from the perspective of students in the basic education.

Power of Gold: Stories from the Ground (planetGOLD Philippines Documentary Series)
Power of Gold: Stories from the Ground is a documentary film series by the planetGOLD Philippines that unveils the stories of trial, triumph, and transformation in one of the most marginalized sectors in our country.

Media Kapihan
Media Kapihan aims to provide a venue to discuss various issues about the ASGM sector and inform the public, through the media, about current policies, programs, strategies and activities specific to the sector.

Communications and Media Relations Training
On 6-7 June 2023, planetGOLD Philippines, in partnership with the Camarines Norte Provincial Information Office (PIO), conducted a two-day Communications and Media Relations Workshop for the PIO staff. The training aims to enhance their media and communication skills and guide them build a narrative supporting their campaign for the ASGM sector in the province.

Social Media Campaigns

  • #ASGMChampionPH: The Spotlight series aims to highlight their stories and efforts in the hopes of raising awareness on the challenges they face and sharing how these Champions have created an impact in shaping the ASGM sector in their areas.
  • #SHEroesOfASGM: a month-long social media campaign that highlights stories about the vital role of women who #EmbraceEquity towards a safer, cleaner, and more profitable ASGM industry in the country. 
  • 2023 Earth Month Special Campaign: To highlight the voices from the communities and different sectors involved in creating a safer, cleaner, and more profitable artisanal and small-scale gold mining industry in the country, planetGOLD Philippines features people who shared their insights, hopes, and dreams on how protecting our planet can go hand-in-hand with sustainable small-scale mining.

Every quarter, the Artisanal Gold Council Philippines–through the planetGOLD Philippines Project–releases a quarterly newsletter that highlights the achievement, news, and updates about the Project.

Knowledge Products

  • Mina Minera (Mina the Miner) Storybook
  • Si Miko, Maya, at ang Ginintuang Lambak (Miko, Maya, and the Golden Valley) Storybook

Media Features

  • TV: Balitang Bicolandia, a Philippine television news broadcasting show broadcast by GMA Regional TV in Bicol, featured the MOA signing between AGC and SMBC.
  • PTV-4,is the flagship state broadcaster owned by the Government of the Philippines. AGC’s Global Operations Manager (then, Project Manager) Douglas Kao was interviewed in this 3-minute TV feature.
  • Radio: The planetGOLD Philippines project’s National Project Manager Abigail Ocate and National Communications Officer Dawn Po Quimque talked about the project, its components, and activities in Sagada, Mountain Province on DZRA 107.3 FM Radyo Pilipinas Bontoc's radio program #BangonMontanyosa, hosted by Dona Kawis-Balio.
  • Digital: Rappler, a Filipino online news website, featured the planetGOLD Philippines Project and its effort in addressing the policy gaps in Sagada, Mountain Province.
  • Social Media: The Camarines Norte Provincial Information Office (CN-PIO), one of the media partners of planetGOLD Philippines, features the ASGM Forum conducted in Paracale, Camarines Norte.

8. Team Members

Abigail Ocate
National Project Manager-planetGOLD Philippines

Ma. Rochelle Anne Orilla
Executive Assistant-planetGOLD Philippines

Mildred Arucan
National Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist-planetGOLD Philippines

Kristal Jaylo-Bautista
National Investment Specialist-planetGOLD Philippines

Maria Elena Grace D. Katigbak
National Gender and Investment Specialist-planetGOLD Philippines

Engr. Vic Quintana
Senior Mineral Processing Engineer-planetGOLD Philippines

Jinky Jane Tero
National Technologist/Engineer-planetGOLD Philippines

Dawn Po Quimque
National Communication Officer-planetGOLD Philippines

Christine Anne Alvarez
National Communication Assistant-planetGOLD Philippines

Peter Espiritu
National Finance and Admin Officer-planetGOLD Philippinespes

Mary Anne Veracruz
National Finance and Admin Assistant-planetGOLD Philippines