MAC: Mines and Communities

Halmahera village heads protest at Newcrest expansion

Published by MAC on 2003-07-18

Halmahera village heads protest at Newcrest expansion

"A letter of protest"

18 July 2003

Thirty eight village heads in Halmahera want to prevent the Australian gold miner, Newcrest from expanding its gold mining . They live in one of the most northerly islands in Indonesia. One reason so little is heard about the area is that it is a long boat trip or expensive, unreliable plane trip from Manado in North Sulawesi which is, administratively, a completely separate province. There are no universities or colleages on Halmahera and hence no student communities or NGOs to support local communities.

Since the 1980s, indigenous communities have suffered from 'development' in the form of logging, plantations and mining, plus transmigration sites to clear forests and provide labour for plantations and 'spontaneous' settlers attracted from neighbouring islands by the prospect of work. The communities are dependent on fishing and forests and have suffered as their land rights and cultures have been violated. The financial benefits have gone to Jakarta and local elites outside Halmahera. The conflict over natural resources - including gold - is manifested in the so-called inter-ethnic violence (Muslims vs Christians) which has devasted communities across the Moluccas in the last 3 years or so.

From: The Kao and Malifut Indigenous Community Council (Tribes of Pagu, Madole, Boing and Towiliko Kao) - North Halmahera Regency, Balisosang Village, Kao

To the Honourable the President of Indonesia , Jakarta

Dear President,

We are writing in relation to development carried out by the state with the aim of improving the prosperity and condition of the community. The development process has faced the problem of a high and rapidly increasing population. The development activities aimed at meeting public needs has in fact increased the demand for, and pressure on, natural resources.

Accordingly, the use of natural resources to increase the welfare and quality of life of present and future generations must be carried out jointly with efforts to preserve environment functions. Therefore, development to increase the welfare and quality of life of present and future generations must be development which is environment-oriented and sustainable.

The goal of environmental management becomes the backbone of continuing development. Consequently, pre-planning must involve all stake holders especially the community around the mining area. This is because community in the area will most likely experience changes in their environment and landscape, both beneficial and disadvantageous, due to the open-pit mining operation.

We are aware that in order to obtain a mining permit, every company has the responsibility to provide an analysis and feasibility study as a decision-making tool. However, in reality, after being granted a visa, many transgressions occur in the field and this not beneficial to the community in the mining area. In accordance with the aspirations and demands of the community around the mine, we have conducted an evaluation, the results of which are presented below:

1. PT NHM has not conducted a proper consultation with the indigenous community of Kao and Malifut Districts residing around the location of the mining operation, as required by Government Regulation RI No. 27 /1999 on environmental impact analysis section 33 subsection 1, section 34 subsection 1, and section 35 subsection 1.

2. PT NHM has not given contributions to local customary institution, either material contribution or acknowledgement of indigenous community's customary land rights, as required by the second amendment of the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia, sections 18 and 28.

3. The planned conversion into production forest of the Toguraci protected forest which is on customary land clearly disregards many crucial issues, such as biodiversity of food resources, including same species found in the traditional shifting cultivation and hunting grounds of Toguraci. Other issues include the geography of Kao and Malifut Districts which is flood-prone because of many large surrounding river systems. This area should not just be seen as a large gold deposit while ignoring the lives and interests of the protected forests' many residents.

4. Exploration and production carried out by PT NHM's Gosowong Project has resulted in significant impacts on indigenous community livelihoods, including: reduced catch of shrimp and fish for producing dried fish and shrimp paste, the most important source of income for the Kao and Malifut communities; a scarcity of wild pigs and deer for hunting; the loss of community farms and gardens (Government Regulation No. 27 1999 Section 3).

5. PT NHM has not been transparent with the community regarding the realisation of social contribution in the form of Community Development. The results written on the company's report do not represent facts on the field.

6. PT NHM in its production practices at Gosowong Project has violated the agreement made with the community on local work force recruitment. The agreement requires the company to recruit locals for 70% of its work force and recruit non-locals for the remaining 30%.

7. PT NHM always sacks local workers without going through the process of issuing three warning letters (SP1, SP2, and SP3) as well as through the channel of P4D and P4P. The company replaces sacked locals with non-locals. In our opinion, there are strong indications that the company is manipulating its production figures and hence its level of payment of royalties, taxes, and other fees. (Labour Act No. 13 2003).

8. PT NHM applies work contracts for local employees with a system of 3 month contracts executed three times which we believe to be in violation of applicable labour laws (Labour Act No. 13 2003).

9. PT NHM has not improved the quality of human resources or the
loca work force(Labour Act No. 13 2003).

10. The recruitment system for local employees is based on an arbitrary system of personal preference, is not transparent, and does not work via the state labour agency (Act No 23 2003). This recruitment system creates a high level of resentment towards local people who do gain employment.

11. PT NHM is not transparent regarding environmental information to the indigenous community living around the mine site. In fact, the company prohibits those owning gardens which fall within company's contract area from conducting any farming activities. (Environmental Management Act No 23 1997 section 5 subsections (1), (2), (3), and section 6 subsection (1), (2).

12. PT NHM disregards the demands and aspirations of indigenous communities living around the mine site and the demands of disadvantaged local employees which were set out during actions carried out on June 13, June 21, and July 17, 2003.

13. In the planning and early stages of implementation of the Goswong Project, PT NHM and the North Halmahera Regent did not involve all village governments and councils (BPD) around the mine site. We therefore believe that PT NHM and the North Halmahera Regent have violated the Regional Autonomy Act No 22 1999 section 110, which delegates government power down to the village level.

Based on the negative impacts listed above, we, the indigenous community and village government and Village Council therefore recommend to the central and local government through the President of the Republic of Indonesia, the following:

1. Oppose the conversion of Toguraci protected forest to production forest
2. Oppose PT Nusa Halmahera Mineral's plans to conduct open cut mining operations in the Toguraci area and surrounds.
3. Demand compensation for customary land rights infringed by exploration and production at the Gosowong Project by PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals (NHM).

Thus, this letter of opposition was written, and we thank you for your attention to our aspirations.

Kao, 18 Juli 2003.

Copies to:
1. Chair, Peoples Consultative Assembly RI, Jakarta.
2. Chair , House of Representatives RI, Jakarta.
3. Komisi III DPR RI di Jakarta.
4. Komisi VIII DPR RI di Jakarta.
5. Minister for Economic coordination, Jakarta.
6. Minister for Forestry, Jakarta.
7. Minister for Environment, Jakarta.
8. Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Jakarta.
9. Minister for Economic development of Eastern Indonesia, Jakarta.
10. National Human Rights Commission, Jakarta.
11. Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, Jakarta.
12. Chief of Indonesian Police, Jakarta.
13. Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Jakarta.
14. Governor of North Maluku, Ternate.
15. Chair, North Maluku House of Representatives, Ternate.
16. Regent of West Halmahera, Jailolo.
17. Regent of North Halmahera, Tobelo.
18. Chair, North Halmahera House of Representatives, Jailolo.
19. Head, North Maluku Mining Office, Ternate.
20. Head, West Halmahera District Mining Office, Jailolo..
21. PT NHM in Gosowong, Kao District.
22. Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Jakarta.
23. Advocacy Team for the Resolution of the Ambon Conflict (TAPAK),
24. Archives.


We, the undersigned :

On behalf of the entire village community and the entire indigenous community of Kao District and Malifut District, we hereby state our firm opposition to the current natural resources management regime, specifically the decision to locate a gold mining operation in TOGURACI area, run by PT NHM, with regards to the following:

1. Regional Autonomy Act No. 22/1999 that regulates the real autonomy of villages and village government.
2. The village participation in Profit sharing
3. Environmental friendliness which places surrounding community aspirations first
4. Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) Decision no.9 2001 regarding the Agrarian Act
5. Regulation No 11 (1984) by the Minister for Internal Affairs (as amended by Ministerial regulation No. 3 1997)
6. Internal Affairs Ministerial Instruction No 17, 1989 regarding capacity building and development of customary institutions
7. The second amendment of the Constitution of Indonesia, 1945, sections 19 and 20.

Thus this statement is made and binds us all undersigned.

Concluded in Malifut on 31 June 2003

Signed by 38 village heads and indigenous leaders

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