Six Chinese nationals, and an unknown number of Philippines nationals, have been arrested in a raid on an illegal goldmine close to the Mt. Magdiwata Watershed Forest Reserve in Agusan del Sur Province on Mindanao Island in the Philippines. The raid was carried out by members of the police and officials from the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, in response to reports of an illegal mine near Mati village that was causing contamination of potable water to Maligaya village and surrounding rice fields. The Chinese nationals have been held under the terms of the Mining Act, but as none were able to produce current valid work permits the matter has also been referred to the Bureau of Immigration.
Damage to the riverbank at the site of the illegal mine in Agusan del Sur. Inquirer News.
The miners were using digging equipment to excavate the banks of the river, and a suction system to hoover up gravel and sediment, which was then transfered to a settling pool, where a 'pinkish liquid' was used to separate the gold from the ore. The operation had gone on for about a month before the raid took place.
The Mt. Magdiwata Watershed Forest Reserve covers an area of 1658 hectares and provides potable water to about 100 000 people in towns in the area, as well as forming an important part of the Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridor, one of the largest remaining blocks of tropical lowland rainforest in the Philippines. The area is considered a biodiversity hotspot and is sacred to the Magahat people. The area has come under threat from illegal mining and logging activities, leading to a series of protest marches by local people who have accused the government of not doing enough to protect the reserve.
The approximate location of the illegal mine. Google Maps.
See also Amnesty International reports on the mining industry in Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, Miner killed by gas on Mindanao Island, Operations ceased at Padcal Mine following flooding and Nine killed at illegal rare-earth mine in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, southern China.
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