Poboya, Rio Tinto and PT CPMPublished by MAC on 2002-04-06
POBOYA, RIO TINTO & PT CPM
(Notes from Mengeruk Emas Menebar Bencana, JATAM/SPRA, Jan 2002)
Original in Bahasa Indonesia. Translation by DTE 6th April 2002
Introduction (by Chalid Muhammad)
PT Citra Palu Mineral (CPM) is only one of many companies with plans to mine in Indonesia. The majority shareholder was Rio Tinto. The company is lobbying hard to open a gold mine in Poboya-Tahura Forest Park in Central Sulawesi.
- There has been considerable local opposition. If it goes ahead, it will be the first mine close to an urban area. No-one has any experience of tackling this; mining operations in isolated areas have had highly damaging impacts. It will also be the first mine allowed in a Forest Park which is the customary land of the indigenous Tara and Ledo people (part of the Kaili ethnic group).
- Local NGOs and the Indoensian mining advocacy network JATAM have produced this material as part of a campaign to inform the public and to support the local community’s struggle.
- Hopefully the government will cancel PT CPM’s plans to mine Poboya.
The Poboya-Palu Forest Park is located in the hills east of Palu, the provincial capital of Central Sulawesi. Local people call the area the Kambuno mountains. In terms of administration, this forest park comes under the control of Donggala district forestry office, although the hamlet of Poboya lies within the Palu municipality - about 7km from the city centre and 3 km from the airport.
Poboya hamlet covers 14,035 hectares of a valley surrounded by rugged hills. It lies at 200m above sea level. The area has some tree cover, including endemic species of sandalwood, ebony and rattans. There is also extensive scrub and grassland. In addition to its rich biodiversity, Poboya has an important hydrological role. This is part of the water catchment area which supplies the city of Palu.
The forestry minister decreed that the Poboya area should be protected as a Forest Park in 1995 (SK Men No.461/Kpts-II/1995). The Poboya Forest Park covers 8,100ha made up of Poboya Nature Reserve (1,000ha); Paneki Protection Forest (7,000ha) and 100ha of reforested land. The Forest Park status means the area has a high conservation value and allows it to be used for research, education and tourism.
The Forest Park is a hilly area with a characteristic ecosystem dominated by sandalwood (Santalum album), Acasia sp and extensive areas of shrubs and grasses. Orchids are to be found in the Poboya part, while the Paneki part has many tree species such as Anthocephalus sp, Callophylum sp, Dryera lowii, Dracontomelon magniferum and Ficus sp. Ebony (Diospyros celebica) has also been replanted in the park. The fauna includes the sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea), pigeons (Geopelia sp); eagles (Elanus hypolaneus) and monitor lizards (Varanus sp). Protected species such as deer (Cervus sp); the endemic dwarf buffalo (Bubalus sp) and various primates are commonly seen along the rivers.
Poboya has a number of springs and fast-flowing clear rivers including the Mavuta, Kawatuna and Poboya. These are important water sources for the local community and the Palu valley. For example, the R. Vatutela supplies Tadolako University, including the lecturers’ housing complex. Local people catch fish, eels and shrimps in these rivers.
Indigenous people and local knowledge
Many traditional settlements (known locally as ngapa or boya) are still to be found within the Poboya-Palu Forest Park. Two of these are Vatutela (officially part of Tondo hamlet) and Poboya Bulili (officially part of Poboya). These communities have lived in this area for generations – long before it became a Forest Park.
Most of the indigenous people in and around the Forest Park practise a traditional form of agroforestry based on their local knowledge. Their use of natural resources and land is much the same as their ancestors’. Coffee, coconuts, cocoa, candlenut, maize and rice are the main crops. For example, under Bulili customary law, primary and secondary forest and water sources are owned communally. There is a high degree of social cohesion and land disputes within the community are unknown. The forest and other land is used rotationally. Mature forest is used for collecting non-timber forest products such as rattan (used for building their houses) and hunting – although hunting is now forbidden in the Forest Park. Some of this forest, by mutual agreement, can be cleared to grow crops, then allowed to become secondary forest and eventually mature forest again. Some areas are specifically allocated for cultivation or hunting. Each type of forest land has its own local name and customary practices. As part of the Bulili’s customary lands is rugged hills and gorges, the areas which they farm may be a considerable distance from their homes, but it is still part of their territory. The boundaries of their lands are only marked by natural features such as rivers.
Other communities, like the Tara and Ledo, make a living on the savanna-like grassland through a mixture of cultivation and livestock rearing. Sheep and cows are grazed on the grasslands and the people grow a range of crops even on the steepest slopes by piping water from springs and streams. They also rely on collecting and trading non-timber forest products.
In these and many other ways, local communities have developed their unique land use systems, customary practices and cultivation skills in response to their natural environment. However, the local economy has been affected because Poboya-Paneki has been declared a Protected Area. The authorities are trying to restrict traditional land use practices in the name of conservation. Ironically, at the very same time, the local government has opening up the area for mining. Such contradictory decisions make the local people confused. Hence the banner at the entrance to Vatutela which reads “We reject the Forest Park and Mining”.
While some of the forest is used rotationally for cultivation and agroforestry, other parts are considered sacred and cannot be touched. For example, the Vatutela community recognises three kinds of sacred forest or pangale katumpua.
Many of the indigenous people of the Forest Park use these areas of sacred forest for special ceremonies, such as to call for rain during a prolonged dry season. Many are along rivers towards their sources. People believe their ancestors lived there high in the hills, before the communities settled in the valley. At one such location - Pomene on the R. Poboya - there are two ancient grave sites. Less than 1km from this sacred forest, PT Citra Palu Mineral has made four exploratory bore holes.
The arrival of PT CPM
- PT Citra Palu Minerals is 90% owned by Rio Tinto who bought the shares off East Kalimantan Coal Pte. The other 10% is owned by Arlia Karyamaska.
- The contract of Contract of Work was signed 1997 as part of the sixth generation of mining contracts issued in the Suharto era (No. B-143/Pres/3/1997)
- PT CPM’s concession area is 561,050ha and extends west and north from Palu to Donggala and Buol Tolitoli.
- On the concession map, it is marked that some of the area includes Poboya-Palu Forest Park. CPM describes the area as barren with some scrub and forest, as if it is completely unproductive and is not used by local people.
- Rio Tinto carried out explorations quietly for 3 years before making their plans known to the public on 21st June 2000. Then the news only got out because Rio Tinto had asked for a meeting with the Central Sulawesi provincial assembly and requested that the boundaries of the Forest Park were changed to accommodate the mine.
- Local NGOs and the communities in Poboya-Palu Forest Park immediately rejected the plan and started to raise public awareness. Some local government officials were also secretly against the plan and the head of the local assembly refused his approval.
- Rio Tinto announced on 23rd March 2001that it was selling its shares in PT CPM to Newcrest.
- Once the concession was granted, the mining companies behave as if they own the land – including selling the rights. The people of Palu or the Poboya-Palu Forest Park have not been properly consulted about the use of their land, minerals and water resources.
Reasons for rejecting the Poboya-Palu mine
- Open cast mine: It is almost certain PT CPM will be an open cast mine. These are prohibited in protected forest areas under the Forestry Act No. 41/1999. Open cast mines use an extensive area and disrupt the local environment through the mine site, processing plant, waste rock and infrastructure. Hills become holes. Dust is generated by the mining and heavy trucks. Mine waste contaminates local water sources.
- Displacement of local communities: Local people’s land is taken. This often generates conflict. The state does not recognise the customary rights of indigenous communities such as Vatutela and Bulili. There is usually little or no consultation with local communities about the plans, let alone consent from them. The process of land acquisition may involve forced evictions, intimidation and oppression, including the use of the security forces (cf PT KEM in East Kalimantan, also owned by Rio Tinto).
- Poverty and cultural erosion are caused by local people being deprived of their land. Their local knowledge and the indigenous economy is destroyed. PT CPM have held a meeting with the Poboya people and promised them compensation for their land, clean water supplies, housing and employment opportunities. Rio Tinto made similar promises to the Kelian people for the PT KEM mine.
- Negative socio-economic aspects: The mine will generate conflict within the community by dividing it into pro and contra factions. Local knowledge and skills will be lost but, when less manual labour is needed and when the mine closes, there is no employment for the indigenous population and incomers who worked at the mine. The local economy which had been generated by the mine will collapse. Meanwhile, the mining company will have left the country with its profits, leaving the local people with all the problems.
- Water shortages: The Forest Park is a water catchment area for Tondo and the Palu valley which is a dry area. The R. Poboya, Vatutela/Tondo and Kawatuna which flow from it supply the local population and Palu city. Poboya may also be important in maintaining the ground water levels in the area which supply people’s wells in the city. Forest destruction for the mine, plus associated waste ponds, roads and housing will disrupt the hydrology. The mine itself will use a lot of water. This could all make Palu’s critical water situation even worse. The people of Pobobya will be worst affected by water shortages.
- Risk of water pollution from mine waste, whether tailings are discharged into the river, collected in settling ponds or piped to the sea. Acid rock drainage from the mine site releases heavy metals into local water sources and groundwater.
- Ecological destruction: Poboya has been declared a protected area for its conservation value. The local flora and fauna include endemic and endangered species. Forest destruction due to mining could increase soil erosion and the silting up of local rivers – already a serious problem. Much of the hillsides around the Palu valley are dry and bare. There is a danger of flooding and landslips if remaining forest is destroyed.
- Geological instability: The island of Sulawesi lies at the intersections of three tectonic plates. The whole island is subject to earthquakes, tremors, tsunami & volcanic eruptions. A major fault (the Palu-Koro) runs N-S through Palu. Donggala (1hr by road from Palu), was the epicentre of a major earthquake in 1927 – part of the coast is now the sea floor. Any seismic activity could damage a mine’s waste ponds, waste tips and processing plants with huge potential pollution risk for the surrounding population.
- Local people’s opposition: Local people have expressed their opposition to the mine several times. Local NGOs have formed an alliance (Alliansi Advokasi Tambang Sulteng) to support local people in fighting the mine plan. Vatutela villagers wrote to the mining & energy minister, the C. Sulawesi governor and Palu municipal government on March 12th. A delegation accompanied by a local NGO protested to the provincial assembly on 16th April 2001 that the mine would destroy their agroforestry plots and take the land used for grazing and rice fields. Several hundred local people protested on 22nd April (Earth Day). The company is still carrying out activities in Poboya, but there has been no public meeting to explain the mine plans and its impact on the community and envioronment. No documents have been made public, including the Environmental Impact Assessment on which any license should be based. C. Sulawesi governor Aminuddin Ponulele says he will never give his approval to the mine because of the potential impact on the population of Palu and to safeguard future generations. The local nature conservation office is strongly opposed to mining within the Forest Park. It is concerned that the company has not consulted it about the test bores it had done or the proposed changes to the Forest Park boundary. The local environmental impact agency office is also opposed to mining in the Forest Park and is concerned that exploration has gone ahead before any EIA or before the local assembly has approved the project.
- Breaking the law: Mining is not included in the list of activities permitted in protected areas under the 1990 Environment (?) Act No. 5. The local nature conservation office refused PT CPM permission to do test bores within the Forest Park (letter No. 682/DJ-VI/Biprog/1997), but the company went ahead. Exploratory boring started in 1998. Officially explorations have only been carried out at 3 sites within the Park, but local NGO has found over 20 bore sites. PT CPM has now applied to the governor to get the borders of the Forest Park moved.
Other Rio Tinto and Newcrest operations (more detail in original)
- PT Kelian Equatorial Mining, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. 90% owned by Rio Tinto . Gold mine. Started operations 1982. Planned to close in 2003. Over 200,000ha of indigenous (Dayak) lands taken. Local incomes have fallen. Environmental pollution. Human rights violations by the company and military.
- PT Kaltim Prima Coal, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. 50% owned by BP; 50% Rio Tinto. Indonesia’s biggest coal mine. 790,000ha concession. Started 1982. Indigenous people lost their land with little compensation. River Sangatta now polluted and cannot be used for drinking or washing. Flooding due to forest destruction .Social conflict between locals and settlers.
- PT Freeport Indonesia, West Papua. The first foreign-owned mine in Indonesia. Rio Tinto has 12% share. Major shareholder Freeport MacMoRan. Started production 1972. Gold & copper. Massive environmental problems and human rights violations. 230 tonnes of waste dumped in local river system daily. 23,00ha forest destroyed. Pollution extends to the coast. Indigenous peoples’ lands destroyed,
- Paguna, Bougainville, PNG. Second biggest copper mine in the world. Indigenous community’s rights violated. Cause of a 9 year civil war. Court action against Rio Tinto in USA. Prosecution accuses Rio Tinto of treating the indigenous community as slaves.
- Lihir, PNG. Owned by Rio Tinto. Started operations 1999. Tailings containing copper, cadmium, tin and arsenic dumped in sea destroying 7km coral. OPIC withdrew political risk insurance because STD waste disposal violated US environmental laws. Much social conflict generated by mine.
- Jabiluka, Australia. Rio Tinto’s uranium mine rejected by Aboriginal land owners. Mine surrounded by Kakadu National Park. Operations stopped due to protests.
- Australia’s biggest mining company formed in 1990 by a merger between Newmont Australia and BHP.
- Has concessions in Halmahera, Maluku, Sumbawa and South Kalimantan.
- The Gosowong gold mine in N. Moluccas has concession of 1,672,967 ha. Production only to last 5 years. Open pit mine. 154,000 tons gold/year. Company accused of contributing to conflict between Muslims and Christians when 500 died.
 UK-based mining giant Rio Tinto planned to sell its 90% stake to Australia’s Newcrest by mid-2001, but there has been no official confirmation that this sale went ahead.
 Taman Hutan Raya (abbreviated to TAHURA)
 Officially called Tahura Poboya Paneki, but commonly known as Tahura Palu or Tahura Poboya
 The report does not include a map, so it is not clear exactly what the area of the Poboya mine will be within PT CPM’s huge concession area. Only 500ha (page 25) or 14% of the Park (p27) may be taken for the mine – the rest could be outside. Hence PT CPM’s interest in changing the boundaries of the Forest Park.
 However, his predecessor, Brigadier General Bandjela Paliudju, sent a letter to the Department of Mining and Energy (No. 540/537 29 Nov 1997) saying the mine would not harm the Forest Park as only 14% of it would be used. It is also not clear whether the new governor would permit the mine to go ahead outside the Park by moving the boundary.
 Mining within protected forests is banned under the Forestry Act No. 41/1999. Note that the mining concession was granted in the Suharto era, 2 years before the new Forestry Act was in place. This bans mining in protected areas, but mining companies argue it cannot be retroactive. Pobobya is just one of 50 cases which are the focus of a major battle currently taking place between the Indonesian Forestry Department and the Mining & Energy Dept as to whether mining can go ahead in protected forest areas.
 Error in original?