‘Small-scale miners in Zamboanga del Sur use illegally-acquired cyanide’—policeBy Julie Alipala
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines– Police authorities had validated suspicions that some small-scale miners were using industrial-grade cyanide, which may have been illegally acquired, in the processing of gold ore they mine from mining areas in Zamboanga del Sur.
Senior Supt. Edgar Danao, chief of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Western Mindanao, said on Oct. 10, they stumbled on a large stock of cyanide, nearly 500 kilograms, during a raid on a structure owned by Julieto Monding.
Monding, a councilor in one of the towns of Zamboanga del Sur, is reportedly the head of the Monte de Oro Small Scale Miners Association (Mossma)—which is locked in conflicting claims over a mining area in Bayog town—with Canadian-firm TVI Resources Philippines Inc. (TVIRD).
Danao said during the raid on a structure owned by Monding in Sitio Depore in Barangay Bayog, which was backed by a search warrant issued by regional trial court Judge Edilberto Absin, police authorities seized a total of 437 kilograms of cyanide, a sack of borax, 45 sacks of limestones and other toxic substances, such as nitric acid.
There are many different types of cyanides, including those that some bacteria produce and those normally occurring in plants in minute levels.
But the toxic kind, being used in industries and mining, is a highly-regulated substance in the Philippines.
Medical journals said that ingestion of a small quantity of solid cyanide or a cyanide solution as little as 200 milligrams, or inhalation of just 270 parts per million of hydrogen cyanide is sufficient to cause death within minutes.
Danao said aside from the haul of toxic chemicals, 10 men were also arrested – some of them yielding firearms and explosives.
At the hut where the toxic substances were being kept, he said that the raiding team also found detonating cords for dynamite.
Charges of violation of Republic Act 6969 or the Toxic Substances, Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act were being prepared against the suspects, along with charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, Danao said.