MAC: Mines and Communities

Indonesia minefield for miner Newcrest

Published by MAC on 2004-02-24

Indonesia minefield for miner Newcrest

By Sian Powell, Jakarta correspondent

24th February 2004

Newcrest Mining does not have permission to operate the Toguraci open-cut gold mine located in protected forest in remote North Maluku, according to officials from the Indonesian departments of mining and forestry.

Planning division chief at the Indonesian Department of Forestry, Boen Purnama, told The Australian the Forestry Law prohibited open-cut mining in protected forest.

The Toguraci mine has been operational for some weeks, according to a spokesman.

Bambang Gatot Ariyono, head of the mineral and coal enterprises sub-directorate in the Indonesian Geology and Mineral Resources Ministry, said Newcrest had permission to explore and develop the site, up to the point of actually operating the mine.

Yet he noted the difficulty with the regulations regarding protected forest.

The controversy serves to highlight the difficulties that foreign mining firms face in Indonesia.

While stating that Newcrest was mining without permission, the Forestry Department admitted it had neither notified nor penalised the company. Melbourne-based Newcrest is adamant that it has all the correct permissions for the Toguraci mine.

Finally, an Indonesian mining assessment team made a full evaluation of the work at the mine and concluded Newcrest had done everything by the book, Mr Reeve added.

The Mining Ministry's Mr Ariyono said that, according to Newcrest's contract, if reserves were found the firm would automatically be given a permit to develop the mine, and then one to operate the mine.

Yet he said that as far as he knew, the Toguraci mine had not begun operating, and an operating permit had not been issued.

© The Australian

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