June 22, 2010 in Featured
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Three pocket miners died of suffocation inside the small-scale mining tunnels in separate towns of Abra and here in Benguet.
On June 11 in Mt. Bumurayok, Barangay Buneg, Lacub in Abra, miners identified as Junie Lingbaoan and Felix Rosario, both locals of Lacub and Federico Lang-odan of Bauko, Mt. Province failed to exit the tunnel they were working on before they fell unconscious due to the lack of oxygen. The next shift of miners found them dead some hours later.
By cellphone call Nordis informant also reported around the same time that another unidentified miner also died from suffocation in a tunnel in Mt. Capcapo, Baay-Licuan.
More and more people in these areas engage in small-scale mining activities despite warnings from the provincial government of Abra and the Provincial Environmental and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) that pocket mining is illegal but the people opt to take the risk because of the high grade of gold here, the promising price of gold in the world market, the lack of gainful employment and poverty. People from different provinces, especially from the Cordillera region flock to the mines here.
Ernie Anton of PENRO-Abra said that these small scale miners are illegal and that Lacub is under investigation regarding the incident. Still many reported and unreported accidents and untoward incidents in the small-scale mining areas of the said barangays including Bucay face the local community without mittigating programs in sight.
Gas posoning and suffocation are frequent in the small-mining tunnels due to lack of appropriate gadgets and safety measures.
On the other hand, inside the level 404 at Loacan, Antamok, Itogon, Benguet, miner Orlan Luis died also of suffocation due to gas poisoning inside the mining tunnel last June 12. The area was a former site of mining operations of Benguet corporation. It was abandoned supposedly because it was mined-out but later opened again by the company to small scale miners who are required to sell their produce to the company.
There are many cases of death among pocket miners in the barangay and most of them were not actually attributed to gas poisoning or were trapped or drowned the flooded tunnels. Last March 29 this year, six miners were trapped inside the tunnels being operated by the Benguet Corporation after the walls collapsed because of flooding, only three of them were rescued.# nordis.net