Gold rush in 2 Mindanao provinces causing deaths, injuries to rival prospectors | Inquirer News

Gold rush in 2 Mindanao provinces causing deaths, injuries to rival prospectors

/ 01:11 PM November 16, 2011

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Gold rush has been noted in two Mindanao provinces with one executive reporting deaths and injuries due to rivalry among prospectors.

In Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, Mayor Leonardo Babasa Jr. described the mining activities in Balabag village as reminiscent of the Diwalwal gold rush (in  Compostela Valley) of the 1980s.

“People are arriving. It’s bustling, it’s like Diwalwal,” Babasa said.


For those lucky enough, Babasa said they were making money as gold prices could reach P2,100 per gram, depending on the grade.


He said the influx of people in Balabag has been causing headache to officials.

“There is an increased report of deaths, either by fighting over an area where to dig or people simply dying due to disasters while digging,” Babasa said.

In Compostela Valley, local officials and miners said newly discovered gold veins contributed more to the sprouting up of gold rush areas than the spike in prices of the precious metal in the world market.

The influx of small and big-time miners in most of the province’s 11 municipalities has been due to good gold prospects, according to Gov. Arturo Uy.

“Yes, there are reports of (new gold rush areas) but the discovery of supposed rich deposits are the main driving force,” Uy said in a recent interview.

The province nevertheless has benefited from the upswing of gold prices, the governor said, considering thousands of Comvalenyos rely on small-scale mining for a living.


Prices of raw gold range from P1,900 to P2,000 a gram in gold buying stations in Tagum City.

Eric Luzon, a miner at the gold-rich village of Pamintaran in Maragusan town, said at least 3,000 people have flocked to the village and started their diggings since June.

“Some portions have good deposits but you have to dig deeper. Many self-financing miners had to resort to banding with mid-level financiers, composed of Tagum-based businessmen so they could sustain their operations. We, in the mountains, are not really keen on monitoring gold price changes. But the higher the prices at gold buying stations, the better,” Luzon told the Inquirer in the vernacular. “What we’re after is, rich, shallow gold deposits.”

Uy said that to prevent a repeat of the Diwalwal experience, the province has been regulating the operation of both small-scale and big-scale mining in nine towns.

He said mayors have been constant monitoring of known gold-rush sites in their respective municipalities so as to ensure compliance with local ordinances on safe mining.

In Compostela town, new gold prospects in the community of Bango in Ngan village drew hundreds of people including laborers at banana plantations and other “non-miners” shifted to gold-digging to try to strike it big, said Mayor Jessie Bolo.

“We really cannot control these people (from swarming to the mining area). What we can do is see to it their operations are being closely monitored so accidents and disasters could be avoided and pollution from mine wastes minimized,” Bolo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, adding mining operations in Bango have been in an on-and-off mode since gold was first discovered there in the early 1980s.

In the capital town of Nabunturan, officials are seeking to prevent small-scale miners encroaching into the Mainit National Park, which reportedly is being threatened by pollution from mine tailings.

Due to complaints from residents and environment officials, the gold-rush area in Mainit village has already been closed down, a staff from the office of Mayor Romeo Clarin said.

“But the miners kept coming back, most of whom transients from other places,” the staff who refused to be named, said in a phone interview.

Uy said there have been proposals to delineate portions of the national park where miners have been operating, and that local officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) “are amenable to these.”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“We are strictly implementing a no-habitation policy in our mining areas. We’ve learned harsh lessons in previous tragedies that most of the casualties were miners’ families. We’re trying to prevent that from happening again,” he said.

TAGS: Gold, News, Regions

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.