Thursday 29 August 2013

Miner killed in landslide on Mindanao Island, the Philippines.

A miner has been killed and three others injured when a landslide hit their encampment near the village of Tagmamarkay in Agusan del Norte Province on Mindanao Island at about 7.30 pm local time (11.30 am GMT) on Tuesday 27 August 2013. The dead man has been named as Juvie Namoc of San Pedro in Surigao del Sur Province, and the injured men as Vincent Jumawan, Marcelito Bernados and Joven Laurente who are also all from San Pedro. The men were dug out by local villagers and taken to Cabadbaran City Hospital, where Namoc was pronounced dead. The incident comes following days of heavy rain in the area. Landslides are are a common problem after severe weather events, as excess pore water pressure can overcome cohesion in soil and sediments, allowing them to flow like liquids. Approximately 90% of all landslides are caused by heavy rainfall.

The approximate location of the 27 August 2013 Tagmamarkay landslide. Google Maps.

The Philippines has a large number of small scale artisanal mines, which are unregulated and seldom have any form of health and safety procedure. Accidents are frequent in these mines, as are environmental problems, particularly as gold metal is separated from the ore using cyanide and mercury. In 2011 a landslide killed 26 workers at a mine in Compostela Valley Province, also on Mindanao.

The Philippine government has tried to regulate or close these mines in recent years, but has met with widespread opposition, as the mines are a source of income for many poor families. The small mines are more popular than large mining operations, which are often owned by foreign companies. These larger mines pay revenue to the central government, but often provide less employment in local communities, and frequently have a patchy record on environmental and safety issues.

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