Saturday 27 October 2018

Philippine police arrest four for illegal mining in Benguet Province, Luzon Island.

Police in the Philippines have arrested four people caught carrying out illegal mining operations at a site closed down following the passage of Typhoon Mangkhut (referred to as Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines) in the middle of September this year. The men were arrested at the Chico Mine Site at Itogon, in Benguet Province on Luzon Island, on Saturday 27 October 2018, following complaints from local villagers that their water was being contaminated by mine-runoff.

Philippine police investigating a mine site in Itogon following reports of illegal mining. Tuba Municipal Police Station/Facebook.

The Chico Mine Site was one of a number of mines closed down by authorities following landslides triggered by the typhoon that killed 94 people in the region, largely around mine sites (which are particularly prone to rainfall-induced landslides as they tend to have exposed soil on slopes). Landslides 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. As a consequence all mining operations in the area were halted pending full inspections by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to confirm that each site is safe. Unfortunately such closed mine sites provide an inevitable source of temptation in the economically challenged area, and such illegal mining can present a greater challenge due to the lack of environmental and health and safety measures associated with formal mining. Saturdays arrests bring the total number of people detained in the province this month for illegal mining at closed sites to fourteen.

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