The West Kalimantan Police have launched an operation against illegal gold-mining activities in a number of regions in the province in the wake of a fatal accident at an illegal gold mine in Landak regency last week.
West Kalimantan Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Sugeng Hadi Sutrisno said on Monday that the accident only added to a list of reasons why the police needed to step up their fight against illegal gold mining, which already caused environmental damage.
“These illegal gold miners are difficult to eradicate. They always fight back,” Sugeng said.
He stressed that the police would not only target the miners and workers, but also their employers, brokers and investors in the crackdown.
According to the 2009 Mining Law, people involved in illegal mining activities face up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rp 10 billion (US$750,300).
The fatal accident, a landslide, occurred in an illegal gold mining site in Kurnia village, Landak regency, West Kalimantan, on Thursday, leaving one worker dead and another injured, two other workers survived.
A settlement between the victims and the employer was made a day after the accident, with the former agreeing not to bring the case to the police.
The police said they were still investigating the owners of the mining site and it was unclear if they were going to face charges.
The case, however, led the police to conduct a crackdown on illegal gold mines elsewhere.
In Senggau regency, the local police arrested on Friday nine persons — one of whom was an investor — in Meliau district for their alleged involvement in illegal gold-mining activity.
Two illegal gold mines were found close to each other, from which the police confiscated two diesel power generators and a chunk of gold.
Items of evidence that could not be seized as a result of difficult access were destroyed at the site to prevent them from being reused in the future for the same illegal activities.
In Mukok district, also in Sanggau regency, illegal gold-mining activities were found in an area of some 10 hectares.
The police arrested four persons at the site. Two of them were identified as an investor in and the owner of the mine while the other two were workers.
In Bengkayang regency, the police raided an illegal gold-mine site in Sekinyak village.
They arrested three suspects and seized evidence including pipes, jerry cans and a bottle of mercury, used to separate gold ore from other minerals.
In Melawi regency, the police arrested a gold-mine worker in Tanjung Lay village.
Melawi police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Ahmad Fadlin acknowledged that illegal gold miners just wanted to make a living even though they knew what they did was dangerous and illegal.
“The crackdown will hopefully stop people from engaging in the illegal activity,” Fadlin said.
Illegal gold mining is common in other provinces as well, including Jambi.
A miner, identified as Samoel, 45, of Tanjung Benuang, Merangin regency, Jambi, was killed while engaged in illegal gold mining in the Benuang River in Lantak Seribu, Merangin, in February.
His body was found crushed under large rocks by two of his fellow miners who had searched for him after he failed to resurface having dived for gold.
Sources: Severianus Endi / The Jakarta Post
18 July 2017