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Story Publication logo April 10, 2022

Gold Taken, Leaving Behind a Gaping Hole (bahasa Indonesia)

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An aerial view of a mountain range in mist.
English

The rise of illegal gold mining activities in West Sumatra has become an environmental problem that...

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This story excerpt was translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the original story in full, visit Padang Info. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


The roar of the water suction machine echoed off the stone walls and the ground. Their roars sounded rhythmic and seemed to compete with each other to make the strongest sound. There are at least seven running pump engines. All the pumps draw from the same spring at the bottom of a hole that looks like a mountain crater.

The water that is sucked in is then shot into the walls of dirt and rock. A worker holding the end of a 1-inch diameter hose was tasked with directing a shot of water through the wall. The earth and stone walls fell. Other workers collect the soil into sacks. Once the sack is full, it is immediately taken to a group of workers who sit in a circle.


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Illegal gold mining activities in Kimbahan, South Solok Regency, use several excavators. Image by Afrimen MN. Indonesia, 2022.

The heavy equipment at work making its way into the gold mine pit. Image by Afrimen MN. Indonesia, 2022.

A former gold mine in Pamong Gadang that has been abandoned. There are several large and deep holes in the area. Image by Afrimen MN. Indonesia, 2022.

A former gold mine in Pamong Ketek that was left with piles of soil and rocks. Image by Afrimen MN. Indonesia, 2022.

The damaged Batanghari River watershed, abandoned after gold mining activities. Image by Afrimen MN. Indonesia, 2022.

Two heavy equipment workers are working at the site where 8 miners died in May 2021. Image by Padang Info. Indonesia, 2021.

Gold mine by boat in Batanghari River, Nagari Lubuk Ulang Aling Selatan. Image by Afrimen MN. Indonesia, 2022.

The ponds were abandoned after the gold was extracted. Image by Afrimen MN. Indonesia, 2022.