Dozens buried, miners still awaiting rescue

As of Monday, dozens of landslide victims in Batu Mujur, Sekotong district, West Lombok, have not yet been evacuated and the provincial disaster mitigation agency (Basarnas) is attempting to dispatch heavy machinery to the area. 

"The heavy machinery will likely arrive in a long time due to the poor access to the area," said Basarnas head Saidar Rahman Jaya. 

Search workers had pulled four victims and rescued five injured people from the accident site as of Saturday night. 

The accident did not stop other miners from continuing with their work as hundreds of miners began mining again not far from the scene of the landslide. 

They were smashing rocks with sledgehammers, grinding stone into powder and placing large rocks into a 25 kilogram rice sack. 

"Most of them stop working only when it rains," Liman, a miner, 40, told The Jakarta Post. 

Liman and his brother, Puji, 38, are from the southwest Praya district in Central Lombok, and have been mining for five days at the Batu Mujur site. 

They stopped working in rice fields after hearing stories from their friends about the gold mine in Sekotong. we're lucky, we sometimes get an ounce from 10 sacks, which is not bad compared to working as farm hands," said Liman, adding he earns only Rp 12,000 (US$1.00) as a farm hand each day. 

Around 200 other miners search for gold in Sekotong, most of who come from west Lombok, Mataram, central Lombok and Java. 

Previously, the miners sold their sacks of rocks for Rp 35,000 each to a collector, but now most of them can process the rocks into gold. 

A miner from West Java, Rahman, 45, told the Post the gold content of rocks at Sekotong mine was larger compared to that in Taliwang, West Sumbawa. 

"I have mined in Taliwang for three years, and it turned out that Sekotong is better. The gold content can reach up to 80 percent, at 22 and 23 carats," he said. 

The gold process in Sekotong is also simpler, as rock is broken and brought to the stone crushers at several locations in East Sekotong village. just use mercury to separate the gold. A sack usually needs 300 grams of mercury," he said. 

According to Rahman, miners can immediately sell their gold to traders or take it home. To determine the price, they just have to type GOLD and send a text message to 6788. 

"The price fluctuates so we use the text message to determine the exact price. It's usually set at Rp 250,000. Imagine how much a miner earns if he can get three grams of gold a day." 

Rahman however said miners usually did not follow safety precautions. landslide was blamed on negligence and carelessness. They should have dug the lower part first and restrained the rocks above with planks," he said. 

The West Lombok regency recorded eight traditional gold mines in Sekotong. 

"Mining began in early 2008 and it has continued to expand," said regency spokesman Basirun Anwar. 

The community learned of its gold prospects following a survey by a prospecting company which later canceled its investment plans. 

Mining activity is illegal, however, as a local ordinance issued by the provincial administration in 2007 stipulates that gold mining is banned on Lombok.

Source:Panca Nugraha , THE JAKARTA POST , MATARAM | Tue, 01/20/2009 5:14 PM | The Archipelago 

No comments:

Post a Comment