Mining is a sustainable economic activity of indigenous peoples. Historical accounts have it that the Igorot in the Cordillera who mined gold, did not domesticate any cattle nor did he attended to his farms because he got his meat and vegetables from his lowland neighbors with whom he had barter trade relations.
In communities along the Agno River, in Southern Benguet, peasants panned for gold after they have prepared the rice fields and while they waited for harvest season.
It is not unlikely that the Lumads in Mindanao, the Aetas of Zambales and other indigenous peoples in many regions in the country, also did a similar thing with the precious metals they have underneath.
Ibon Foundation noted the presence of miners among the Surigaonons in the pre-hispanic period. The Bicolanos, like the Ibalois and Kankanaeys of Benguet, have also been mining for gold since time immemorial.
Mining then involved placer and sluicing at river banks and mountain slopes where run-off water would scrape off the topsoil and expose the ore. Ore is further refined by rubbing two rocks against the pulverized ore, which was stored until used for barter trade, in gin bottles. Gold then was not popularly used, except to make pieces of jewelry and for trade with lowland and Chinese merchants, for salt, cotton cloth, which the Ilocanos weave, cattle & gusi (ceramic jar made by the Chinese), which the Igorot miners used for storing rice wine (tapey) for his rituals. #V. Ramo