Gold rush triggers local inflation

"The gold field discovery causes people to leave their daily jobs and mine gold due to the higher income," Buru district chief Ramly Ibrahim Umasugi said.
Ambon, Maluku (ANTARA News) - The discovery of a gold field in Buru district of Maluku province two months ago has triggered local inflation in anticipation of a gold rush.

According to Buru district chief Ramly Ibrahim Umasugi, speaking here on Friday, the inflation was mainly caused by fishermen and farmers who left their jobs to become gold miners.

"The gold field discovery causes people to leave their daily jobs and mine gold due to the higher income," Ramly said.

Since fishermen and farmers left their jobs, food prices doubled, especially for rice, various vegetables, and fish.

Ramly said that the price for a sack of 50 kilograms of rice, usually priced at Rp280 thousand, increased to Rp500 thousand, and for fish, which is usually priced at Rp10 thousand, the cost has doubled to Rp20 thousand.

"The area is considered to be a place with plenty of rice and fish," he said.

The gold rush has also disturbed local economic growth in the food sector, while electronic goods and automotive products sales are increasing significantly, he said.

"I have checked at the local Yamaha and Suzuki motorcycle dealers, where I was informed that more than 300 units have been sold within the last month," he said.

Ramly said that such figures for motorcycle sales are considered to be very high in a district like Buru, because usually only 90 units per month are sold.

Besides causing a negative impact by hiking food prices, security matters also become an issue due to the number of people entering Buru from Java and Sulawesi Islands.

The number of incoming gold miners might be as high as 10,000 people and is expected to rise. These miners have been seen carrying traditional gold mining tools, such as shovels and sieves.

In order to anticipate an increase in the incoming population , the local government has instructed the mine to shut down within a week.

The shut down is hoped to restore Buru district`s population to its normal number.

"We would also need to create permits and regulations for the incoming miners before they can do their work there," Ramly said.

According to Lily Ohorella of Namlea hamlet in Buru district, since the gold rush began, the cost of food has become very high.

"There are only a few fish and vegetables sold in the market, which triggers expensive prices because farmers and fishermen left their jobs to find gold," she said.(*)