Medan, N Sumatra (ANTARA) - The North Sumatra provincial administration has made a solemn promise to crackdown on illegal gold miners in Mandailing Natal District, as their activities have harmed the environment and polluted the waters of Batangadis River.

"We shall not let illegal gold mining activities to continue to go on," North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi informed journalists after witnessing the roll call of police and military personnel involved in the "Operasi Lilin Toba 2019" here on Thursday.

Rahmayadi remarked that the state should not be defeated by illegal gold miners easily found in the areas of Mandailing Natal District, as they have destroyed the environment and violated government regulations.

“The authorities will shut down illegal gold mining sites that the local people had run for years," he stated.

Illegal gold mining activities cannot solely be witnessed in North Sumatra but also in several other provinces in Indonesia.

These illegal gold miners are in fact vulnerable to fatal accidents. In February this year, tens of gold miners were buried in an illegal gold mining site in Bakan Village, Bolaang Mongondow District, North Sulawesi Province.

The Search and Rescue workers found many of them dead. A total of 18 miners survived the disaster.

Owing to the negative impact of these gold mining activities, Walhi, an Indonesian environmental forum, had also urged the government to halt mining activities around Sawahlunto Town, West Sumatra Province, after Ombilin, a former coal mining area in Sawahlunto, was inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage List.

"Active mining permits and illegal mining activities continue unabated in Sawahlunto," Uni Chaus, executive director of Walhi's West Sumatra office, stated in July 2019.

If the government is keen to develop tourism in Ombilin, all mining activities must be completely halted since they could be detrimental to the environment, trigger land claim conflicts, and tarnish Sawahlunto's image as a safe and nice tourist destination, she remarked.

According to Walhi’s data, 13 mining permit holders continue to operate actively in Ombilin.

"Being a World Heritage site, Sawahlunto must improve its environment by banning all illegal gold mining activities today being conducted on a massive scale in rivers and areas that are in fact the main gates into Sawahlunto," she emphasized. Related news: Students protest against gold mining company in Central Aceh
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Translator: Munawar M, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
Copyright © ANTARA 2019