Ambon, Maluku (ANTARA) - Police in Buru Island, Maluku, continue to take severe measures against illegal gold miners, with several Waeapo police precinct personnel destroying the miners' work equipment during a raid in Gogorea Village, Buru District, on Saturday.

Waeapo Police Chief Second Inspector Zainal led the raid to shut down the mining site, Buru Island Police Chief Adjunct Sen. Coms. Ricky Purnama Kertapati told ANTARA on being contacted from Ambon, the capital of Maluku Province, on Sunday.

Nonetheless, no illegal gold miners came under the police’s net during the raid since they had fled the mining area before the policemen arrived, leaving behind several goods and working equipment, he stated.

Kertapati pointed out that the abandoned goods, comprising two sets of bamboo-made water launchers, two generator sets, 20 carpets, and six 50-meter-long water pipes, were burned down and destroyed by the police to prevent the miners from henceforth using them.

Kertapati noted that the hunt was still ongoing for the illegal gold miners while adding that the villagers were urged to not get involved in illegal mining activities.

Related news: Central Bangka police named three suspects over illegal mining
Related news: Tebo police apprehend eight illegal gold miners in Jambi

Illegal gold mining activities were conducted not only in Maluku but also in several other Indonesian provinces.

In fact, these illegal gold miners are susceptible to fatal accidents. In February 2019, 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 several of them dead. A total of 18 miners survived the disaster.

Due 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 on developing 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 pointed out.

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

"Being a World Heritage site, Sawahlunto must work towards environmental improvement by banning all illegal gold mining activities being conducted today on a massive scale in rivers and areas that are, in fact, the main gates into Sawahlunto," she stressed.

Related news: 20 illegal gold miners arrested in West Sumatra
Related news: Banten police shut down 10 illegal gold-mining pits in TNGHS

Translator: Daniel L, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
Copyright © ANTARA 2020