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Jakarta Post

Two arrested as mercury poisoning plagues North Sumatra’s El Dorado

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Medan   /   Sat, December 28, 2019   /  05:03 pm
The Jakarta Post Image
A miner pans for gold in Batang Limun River in Sarolangun, Jambi. The traditional practice of gold extraction is hard to find nowadays as illegal miners are relying on machines that use mercury that refine more quickly. (JP/Jon Afrizal)

Two suspects have been arrested in Mandailing Natal regency, North Sumatra, for selling mercury, a hazardous chemical compound widely used in the area’s small-scale gold mining, which allegedly polluted water, causing birth defects. North Sumatra Police special crimes director Sr. Comr. Rony Samtana said Friday the arrests were made following a tipoff about the suspects’ location in Penyabungan Julu Pasar Lama village, Penyabungan district. “Our team went to the location and arrested the two suspects who were selling mercury to illegal miners,” he said. Unlicensed small-scale gold mining has been a major source of income for residents in the regency in the past decade, but it has recently come under the spotlight after reports of babies being born with deformities caused by mercury poisoning. Along with the arrests, the police seized two jugs bran...