MAC: Mines and Communities

Australian mining company at heart of bloody Indonesian storm

Published by MAC on 2012-01-10
Source: ABC News, Jakarta Post, AAP, statements

Three Indonesian citizens were killed, with nine critically wounded on Christmas Eve 2011, when police attacked non-violent protesters against gold exploration by Australia's Arc Exploration on Sumbawa island.

In the wake of the violence the local mayor suspended the permit issued to Arc's local partner.

Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission says the permit should be revoked.

Australia's Greens, as well as Friends of the Earth, have called for a thorough investigation into possible complicity by the company in the atrocity.

See also video link here:


Australian miner under pressure over deaths

By Matt Brown, Indonesia correspondent

ABC News

4 January 2012

Pressure is mounting on Indonesian authorities to stop a Sydney-based resources company searching for gold on the island of Sumbawa.

Three people were killed on Christmas Eve when police attacked protesters opposed to mineral exploration by Arc Exploration.

In the wake of the violence, the local mayor bowed to longstanding pressure from farmers and anti-mining activists and suspended the permit he had issued to Arc's local partner.

Now, investigators from Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission say the permit should be revoked.

They say 30 other people suffered gunshot wounds and 19 were beaten during the police attack.

Indonesia's resources minister also says the permit should be revoked.

He has warned other local officials to be more sensitive to concern about mineral projects in their communities.

Stop the Activity of Mining and Slaughtering in Bima, Solidarity for Civilians

SBY-Boediono Must Take Responsibility

Joint Press Release

24 December 2011

The Indonesian National Police and Military again conducted violence and massacre. On December 24, 2011, they opened fire on civilians, members of Anti-Mining People's Front (FRAT) during a peaceful protest at the Sape Harbor which started four days ago. Those civilians rejected the presence of a gold mine, PT. Sumber Mineral Nusantara (SMN).

The government deployed troops of Brimob (Mobile Brigade) and riot equipments which shot at the protesters this morning. 3 people died and 9 people were critically injured. This marked as the peak of conflict between the government and business corporations against citizens throughout the year of 2011.

Rejection on PT. SMN by the people of Lambu, Bima, has taken place for the last two years. PT. SMN got the Mining Business Permit (IUP) for 25 years in 2008, which then updated by Bima Administration with IUP number 188/45/357/004/2010, which stated PT. SMN's covered area of 24.980 hectares in the district of Lambu, Sape, and Langgudu with company's covering area of 14.318 hectares.

Indo Mineral Cipta Persada which operates in the district of Parado, based on the central government permission. The majority stakes of PT. Sumber Mineral Nusantara were owned by PT. Arc Exploration Ltd. of Australia.

FRAT conveyed rejection because the gold mine would endanger the livelihood of civilians. Most of Lambu residents are farmers and fishermen. The mine will dismantle the land and disrupt water resources which certainly affect residents' agricultural lands. Besides, the company had never done dissemination to the public before.

Since then, the citizens, who are members of the Anti-Mining People's Front (FRAT), continued the acts of rejection. Last January, about 1500 people came to act upon refusal to the sub district office. Unfortunately, they did not get any satisfactory response. The next month, on February 2011, thousands of residents carried out a 1.24 miles long march to Lambu's sub district office.

The government deployed 250 personnel of Bima's police, 60 personnel of combined intelligence and crime investigation, and 60 personnel of Provincial NTB's Brimob. The meeting had no results. The unsatisfactory residents pushed the door of Lambu's sub district office, answered back by tear gas, rubber bullets, and suspected, live ammunitions. Hundreds of thugs organized by district officials provoked the residents.

Clashes were inevitable. Not stopping there, Police chased and arrested five residents and locked them in the Police Station of Bima. There were some victims. M. Nasir (23) shot at the leg bone, allegedly by live ammunition. On November  2011, over one thousand residents returned to carry out actions in front of Bima Regional House of Representatives demanded the same thing.

Residents reported to The National Human Rights Commission, which then conducted an investigation on April 2011. On November 2011, The National Human Rights Commission issued a recommendation No. 2.784/K/PMT/XI/2011 for The Regent of Bima, The West Nusa Tenggara Chief of Police, and The Director of PT. SMN.

The National Human Rights Commission recommended The Regent of Bima to improve the information system and publicize mining activities; started from exploration to exploitation, and also to suspend the activities of PT. SMN while waiting for the conduciveness of society's social life.

The West Nusa Tenggara Chief of Police was asked to take coordinative and communicative steps with all elements of government and community leaders to prevent horizontal conflicts in Bima. The National Human Rights Commission urged the warranty for residents' freedom of speech or aspiration (demonstration) in accordance with statutory provisions, and to avoid repressive measures by using weapons with live ammunition in securing rallies.

But the officials did just the opposite. Peaceful actions conducted since December 21, 2011 was terminated with violence and massacre. There were 3 people died and 8 people wounded. Arif Rahman (19) was shot through the right arm to the armpit; Syaepul (17) was penetrated by the bullet at the chest, and Ansyari (20). Nine people injured are Sahabudin (31), Ilyas Sulaiman (25), Ibrahim (25), Awaludin (24), Suhaimi (23), Mistahudin (18), and Hasanan (female, 39) and two others can not be identified.

Throughout the year of 2011, the violence conducted by the government and the police force against the peasants increased. WALHI recorded 103 cases of conflicts over natural resources sectors. From Sorikmas in North Sumatera, Tiaka in Central Sulawesi, Mesuji, Senyarang case, Teluk Meranti case in Padang Island; to the massacre in Lambu towards Christmas. Not to mention the potential of similar cases in the future.

President SBY and Boediono must take responsibility for the terrible management of agrarian and natural resources, which was resolved using approaches of crime on humanity. Therefore we demand:

1. President SBY to immediately issue an official order to stop and revoke the Mining Permit of PT. Sumber Mineral Nusantara (SMN) and stop the violence and massacre in Bima.

2. President SBY to immediately issue an official order to withdraw and evaluate all forces of Indonesian National Police and Military at the location of natural resource conflicts.

3. President SBY to immediately stop the company's activities which created and potentially create conflicts until the certainty of settlement is structurally created by establishing the National Committee for Resolution of Agrarian Conflicts and Natural Resources.

4. The House of Representatives to immediately make use of the right of interpellation to request President SBY's responsibility for serious violation of human rights in the agrarian sector and natural resources.

5. President SBY to immediately dismiss and replace Timor Pradopo, Indonesian Chief of Police.

6. The National Human Rights Commission and Witness and Victims Protection Agency (LPSK) to ensure legal protection for victims, as the indication of violence will spill over in the future.

7. Urging the Constitutional Court to immediately decide the civil citizen lawsuit on Law No. 4 Year 2009 on Mineral and Coal, and demanding abolishment of articles that criminalizing citizens.

With regards,

WALHI, JATAM, AGRA, KPA, YLBHI, Repdem, Sawit Watch, Koalisi Anti Utang, HMI MPO, IGJ, Formada NTT/ JPIC OFM, LIMA, PMKRI, DPP IMM, LMND, Srikandi Demokrasi, KIARA, PWYP

Media Contacts:

Mukri Fitriana, WALHI, mobile 081288244445
Andre S Wijaya, JATAM, mobile 08129459623
Lamens, EN LMND, mobile 085658984846

1. the company owned by Australian (95%)

2. This case not only one, 2 weeks ago we just against Slaugthering in Mesuji, Lampung Province and South Sumatera. The villagers against Oil Palm and Pulp wood plantation

Greens want investigation into gold miner

By David Wroe and Brian Robins

Sydney Morning Herald

28 December 2011

THE Greens have demanded the government investigate an Australian mining company's relationship with Indonesian police who opened fire at the weekend on environmental protesters, killing at least two people.

The acting Greens leader, Christine Milne, told the Herald yesterday that the firm Arc Exploration, which is looking for gold on the island of Sumbawa, appeared to have gone ahead with its work despite signs the situation with local residents and farmers was turning incendiary.

According to Indonesian media reports, police fired live rounds at demonstrators in the city of Bima in West Nusa Tenggara province on Saturday, killing two students, Arif Rachman and Syaiful, and wounding at least 10 other people.
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The demonstrators had been blockading the road to the nearby port of Sape since December 19 and calling on authorities to revoke the permits of Arc Exploration and its Indonesian partner, Sumber Mineral Nusantara, according to The Jakarta Post.

''What we would like is to have the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade immediately investigate and report back to the Australian people about what exactly took place and what arrangements Arc Exploration have with the local police,'' Senator Milne said.

She said the unrest had been building but that the deadly incident suggested ''the company has pressed on regardless, with tragic consequences''.

Arc Exploration is due to make an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange this morning. Yesterday its chairman, Bruce Watson, said the company's work was still exploratory.

The firm put its field work on hold in the area in February because of the local unrest. But on November 29 it issued a statement saying it was resuming work after ''meetings with local people, community leaders and government authorities to secure their long-term support''.

That statement said the company was aiming to start drilling - a more extensive form of exploration - ''as soon as possible''.

The gold project, which covers 250 square kilometres, is a joint venture with Indonesia's Sumber Mineral Nusantara.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also expressed concern over the incident.

''The Australian government is always concerned to see loss of life and injury,'' a spokesperson said.

''We note that Indonesian authorities have ordered an investigation into the incident.''

Senator Milne said the company's ASX statement needed to ''make clear what arrangements it has made with any local security firms or police with regard to local protesters and also indicate what efforts it has made to consult with local farmers and fishermen about the nature of the mining exploration that it is conducting in the area''.

''The mining company has an obligation to explain the human rights and environmental standards with which it will comply in the port of Sape,'' she said.

"Australian companies should abide by the same standards of human rights and environmental compliance that they would have to undertake here in Australia. Unfortunately this does not happen and we've now seen a human rights abuse and also clear concern from local people that their environment will be damaged by the activities of Arc Exploration."

Australian government must investigate massacre in Indonesia

Friends of the Earth Australia Media Release

26 December 2011

With three dead and nine critically injured, questions are being raised about the role of Australian owned company Arc Exploration after a community protest on the island of Sumbawa was attacked by Indonesian police.

“The shooting of peaceful protestors is completely unacceptable anywhere in the world, but with an Australian company involved because of its mining operation, it is imperative that the Australian Government step-in  immediately to help calm the situation and ensure no more people are killed” said Derec Davies of Friends of the Earth Australia.

“Foreign Minister Rudd must respond and investigate the role of Arc Exploration and its dealings with the Indonesian National Police, which has responded so violently against the peaceful protest at the Sape Harbor over the Bima Gold Mine project.”

“Indonesian police attacked on Christmas Eve, and three days later, questions and concerns from locals go unanswered.”

It is unfortunate that after the police shootings, protestors responded by taking up weapons and petrol bombs. Sadly however the video footage by local media shows unarmed protestors being shot by security forces. While the Indonesian Government has said it will ‘evaluate’ the police response, it is clear that the police exceeded the use of necessary force to calm the situation. Their actions have inflamed the situation.

“Friends of the Earth is a global organisation and we work with local communities to support their peaceful non violent environmental struggles. We are appalled by the response of the Indonesian police”.

“The community was protesting against environmental damage caused by the mine. No Australian company should be complicit in any way in this level of violence. It is unacceptable in Australia and shouldn’t be acceptable in  Indonesia,” said Davies.

“Many tourists to Bali visit the island of Sumbawa. The company has been a trusted partner of locals. But with the problems of the Bima gold mine that trust has turned to outrage. The locals of Bima demand more, and so should Australians of our companies operating in the area”.

“Foreign Minister Rudd must step in now and call a halt to Australian operations of Arc Exploration in the Bima area. Halting the mine operations will allow police to pull out and calm to settle. Foreign Minister Rudd is  responsible for calling on Chairman Mr Bruce Watson to explain his companies involvement. Australian shareholders have the right to know what is going on” said Mr Davies.

“The first killings were on Christmas eve, yet the ‘battle of Bima’ continues. The current violent response is at Pelabuhan Sape Bima. The community is outnumbered by heavily armed national police, which is being supported by the military.”

“During this time of holiday peace, we call upon Arc Exploration to halt operations and the Australian Government to intervene to halt the unnecessary and forceful action”.

Media contacts: Derec Davies, Friends of the Earth                   
mob:  0421 835 587

Australian company Arc Exploration halts gold operations after Indonesian violence


28 December 2011

INDONESIAN-focused gold explorer Arc Exploration has halted some operations after violent demonstrations against its activities resulted in two deaths.

Two people were killed and 10 others injured over the weekend in clashes between police and protesters from Lambu village in West Nusatenggara province.

The villagers were protesting the operations of Arc in Bima, in East Sumbawa, where the company is undertaking exploration activities.

Arc co-owns the operations with an Indonesian company.

The company said in a statement today that it remained in full compliance with all legal, regulatory and licence requirements, but had halted exploration activities at Bima "until the situation is resolved".

The company has been in consultation with local government and communities about its activities in Bima since early this year.

Arc said those activities involved non-intrusive, early stage exploration.

The work was minor and involved a small number of geologists conducting field work such as soil sampling, it said.

"There is no gold mine existing or under construction, nor is any gold mine presently contemplated," Arc said.

"(Arc) is an exploration company and does not undertake mining."

Indonesian authorities are believed to be investigating the weekend's events.

Government's unilateral policy in Bima

Ulil Amri, Kendari

Jakarta Post

28 December 2011

On Saturday, hundreds of security officers, police and troops attacked a crowd of protesters from the People's Anti Mining Front occupying Sape Port in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara.

The protestors initially aimed to reject the presence of two mining companies in the region and asked Bima Regent Ferry Zulkarnaen to revoke the company's mining permit.

The protest was ended brutally by the officers and two protestors were killed and dozens injured.

We have witnessed protests against mining companies in various areas, including Pati and Kebumen, Central Java; Bombana, Southeast Sulawesi; Samarinda, East Kalimantan; and currently Lambu, West Nusa Tenggara.

The message from the protesters is clear: They do not want to see their land destroyed by the companies as they dispose waste that in turn harms residents' lives and livelihood.

However, the government of Bima failed to get - or simply ignored - the message. Rather than conducting a dialogue with the protesters, it chose violence. Anthropological consideration s were absent.

According to Shore and Wright, the anthropology of policy seeks to understand cultural and philosophical foundations behind policy. Here, the object of analysis is policy. Whether or not a policy is useful and effective for all member of a community, town, state, country or nation largely depends on both foundations.

In other words, a useful policy must be sensitive to the culture and worldview of a community, town, state, country or nation.

From this perspective, we can raise a question: Is the government's policy sensitive to the culture and worldview of Lambu community?

The culture of Lambu is built on complex systems of knowledge, kinship, livelihood, language, social organization and technology. They are complex because each system is intertwined with others. The government seems to have failed to take account of such complexity.

The residents of Lambu know that once a mining company operates in their region some negative impacts, such as environmental degradation and polluted water sources, may follow. Meanwhile, it is the only water source in the region.

Mining operations may also change their livelihoods dramatically. Although the world price for gold is promising, people of Lambu will soon lose their agricultural land, which has been inherited from their ancestors, while nothing will be left for future generations.

The Lambu people worry that the power of gold or money will change the social character of their communality, which will in turn affect their social organization as a whole.

In addition, the government has ignored people of Lambu's dignity. Based on a report from the Indondonesian Environmental Forum (Wahli), the majority of people in Lambu were not involved during the first phase of policy making to decide whether or not their region should be opened to mining companies.

Rather than listening to the aspirations of Lambu's people as a whole, the government unilaterally gave a mining permit to company. Only certain local elites were invited to make the agreement.

After witnessing the security officers' brutal action, it seems that the people of Lambu are not going to weaken their resolve. The whole of Bima and Indonesia tend to back such action.

In order to prevent an increasing number of dead and injured victims in the future, it is imperative for the government to apply a moratorium as soon as possible for all mining companies .

At the same time, the government as well as the National Police must conduct an investigation, and ensure that no suspect will be overlooked by the investigation.

The police must be honest and announce if its officers acted in their capacity as mediators between protesters and the government of Bima and give them fair punishment.

Finally, and most importantly, the government must not be base its policy solely on economic and political preferences, but also on larger sociological or anthropological consideration, as this tragedy has taught us.

To be specific, the government must develop a policy that is sensitive to culture and worldviews. If not, we will always fail to design useful and effective policies for member of communities, towns, states, countries or nations in the future.

The writer is a researcher at the Research Center for Regional Resources at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Jakarta and a lecturer in the faculty of social and political sciences at Muhammadiyah University in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi.

Mining, plantation disputes to intensify

Jakarta Post

29 December 2011 

Jakarta - Environmental groups predict that land disputes over mining and plantation activities will intensify throughout the country in the coming months and they have called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to immediately audit the operation of palm oil and mining companies.

The groups, including palm oil business watchdog Sawit Watch and the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) said that Yudhoyono should lead the cross-departmental audit, especially of the companies' operating permits.

"The President must immediately evaluate every operational permit issued to all companies throughout Indonesia, particularly in the palm oil and mining sectors. This will tell us how many of these companies got their permits illegally through dubious administrative processes that have given rise to conflicts with local communities. The audit must also check the number of companies operating without land-use certificates," Sawit Watch executive director Abetnego Tarigan said.

He said the audit would also help to paint a complete picture on where investors should really operate.

Sawit Watch said there were currently 11.5 million hectares of oil palm plantations throughout Indonesia. The government has also issued licenses for companies to operate in another 28.9 million hectares of land.

Sawit Watch campaigner Edi Sutrisno said that transparent and comprehensive data on the legality of the companies would also prevent conflicts with locals.

"The police and TNI [the Indonesian Military] set up security posts to secure oil palm plantations and take sides with the companies without verifying the status of the companies. No wonder they have become involved in so many land conflicts," he said.

Sawit Watch recorded 664 unresolved land disputes involving palm oil companies up to this year. This year alone, it found that the TNI and the National Police were involved in 11 disputes.

Sawit Watch has identified strong opposition to oil palm plantations in Mandailing Natal regency in North Sumatra, Muaro regency in Jambi and Tanjung Jabung Barat, also in Jambi. Other conflict-prone areas include four regencies in West Kalimantan, three regencies in East Kalimantan and two in Central Sulawesi.

"The President must not wait any longer," said Abetnego, adding that Sawit Watch and other nongovernmental organizations would call for help from the international community if the government refused "to listen to the people".

Jatam has also come up with a map of potential hot spots for conflict over land for mining activities.

Jatam cites Bima in West Nusa Tenggara as one of the most conflict-prone areas in mining. Other hot spots include Sumbawa, also in West Nusa Tenggara, Aceh Besar in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Obi Island in North Maluku and Timika in Papua.

"The high level of opposition toward mining activities in those areas and the overlapping authority as to who should issue mining permits has turned these places into hot spots for conflict," said Andrie S. Wijaya, coordinator of Jatam.

Data from Jatam showed that the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry had issued 5,374 mining licenses up to November this year. However, Jatam found that 8,000 mining companies were operating in the country.

"We must verify which of the other 3,000 or so companies are not registered by the ministry. Overlapping authority between the central and local government might have caused this," he said.

Among the 5,374 registered mining companies, 349 are operating in protected forest areas.

Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said that the government was not to blame. He said that the government had changed the designation of 927,648 hectares of protected forest and this had allowed 13 mining companies, including PT Sorikmas Mining in North Sumatra and PT Freeport in Papua, to operate in what had been protected areas.

"Apart from these 13 companies legally operating in protected forest areas the rest are illegal operators," said Hadi.

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