30000 kilos of gold dumped in Davao rivers

Subscribe Now November 25, 2012 at 10:27am

NEARLY 30,000 kilos of gold valued at approximately $2 billion to $3 billion at current gold market price had been dumped as wastes down the slopes of the gold-laden mountains of Diwalwal, Pantukan and other mining areas in Davao Region. The dumping is done by thousands of small-scale miners and ball milling processors using crude methods of recovering gold particles from crushed ore.

Canadian mining engineer Adrian Daniel, who just made an in-depth study of small mining operations in Guyana, South America as part of a Canadian project to find safer alternatives to the use of mercury to extract gold from ore, revealed that only 27,700 kilos of gold were extracted by small-scale miners and small ball mill gold processors during the last ten years from 2000 to 2010 in Davao's gold mining areas.

"This is only half or less than what they could extract from the gold ore if they use better methods like gravity concentration, flotation and cyanide which are used by large gold miners," Daniel told delegates during the recent Conference on Arsenal and Small Scale Miners in Mindanao at the Ateneo de Davao University.

Daniel said that the other half or more of the gold had been dumped as wastes by small scale processors who crushed the ore with big hammers into small particles and separate the gold particles with mercury -- a practice prevalent among ball milling operators in Compostela and Pantukan mining areas.

Diwalwal small miner Franco Tito also confirmed the gold wastes being dumped down the slopes of the gold-laden mountains over the years since they started small scale mining in the province with the "free gold" streaming down to the sands and fine gravel of small and big rivers in Compostela Valley, drawing thousands of gold panners -- mostly poor villagers and fortune hunters from nearby provinces.

"There are still billions of dollars of gold in those tailings. All that free gold is there in the rivers of Monkayo, Naboc, Pantukan and Agusan -- that's why people from many villages spend most of their time gold panning to look for gold and many were lucky to find them," Tito said.

Some of the big mining firms operating in the area however, bought the rights to do "de-silting" operations in areas to collect the gold particles beside the rivers, eventually blocking hundreds of small gold panners from seeking their own fortune, according to Tito.

"If we don't give these poor villagers the right to pan for free gold in these rivers, they'll die of hunger -- this is the only opportunity for them to survive and live decent lives," Tito said.

Gold recovery from the crude methods used by ball millers in Davao, according to Tito, is even much smaller than Daniel's estimates, probably only around 25 percent to 30 percent, which makes the estimated volume of gold wastes much higher during the last ten years -- possibly around 40,000 kilos of free, unrecovered gold.

Source: sunstar.com.ph

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