MAC: Mines and Communities

Rejection Statement on PT Placer Dome Gold Mining in South Kalimantan

Published by MAC on 2003-02-10

Rejection Statement on PT Placer Dome Gold Mining, PT Kodeco Logging and Pulp and Paper Mills in South Kalimantan

Banjarbaru, 10 February 2003

The Meratus Mountains cover seven districts in South Kalimantan; Banjar, Tapin, Hulu Sungai Selatan (HSS), Hulu Sungai Tengah (HST), Hulu Sungai Utara (HSU), Tabalong, and Kotabaru, with a portion also lying in the Paser District of East Kalimantan. Thus, it is no wonder that the Meratus Mountain Forest Area is ecologically significant and of high survival value for the community in Kalimantan, especially in South Kalimantan and East Kalimantan.

The existence of investors in the forestry sector (logging, industrial plantations, cultivations) and mining sector in the Meratus Mountain forest area has resulted in massive deforestation in the province of South Kalimantan province, approximately 44.4 % in a period from 1985 - 1997 or approximately 3.7% per year (more than twice the national rate). This deforestation rate is the second worst in Indonesia, behind the province of South Sumatera that has a deforestation rate of 65% or 5.41 % per year.

In 1985, South Kalimantan's forest area was 1,795,900 hectares but by 1997, the remaining forest area was 999,182 hectares. South Kalimantan's forest area at the moment is smaller than the forest area found in the province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), a dry area. South Kalimantan's forest area has also become the fifth smallest of all provinces found outside the island of Java.

Natural resource exploitation has extinguished biodiversity in the Meratus Mountain area and degraded the quality of life of communities in South and East Kalimantan.

For the community located downgradient (in the town), the destruction of the Meratus Moutain forest area has resulted in natural disasters like erosion and flooding of settlements and agricultural land in the rainy season and droughts in the dry season.

For the Dayak Meratus community that live in and around the forest area, forest destruction has resulted in the loss of access to their sources of life like land to live on, agricultural lands, and forest results that up until now have acted as their life "breath."

In a period of the last ten years, tens of conflict cases between the Dayak Meratus community and investors supported by the government and military, has occurred in South Kalimantan. Various conflicts currently revolve around plans to change the function of the Meratus protected forest so that the area can be opened for PT Kodeco Timber's logging, PT Placer Dome's gold mining and pulp and paper mills.

PT Placer Dome's gold mining track record in various countries reveals that they have neglected protecting the environment and violated human rights of the local communities around their company locations. Pulp and paper mills in Indonesia, for example PT Indo Rayon in North Sumatera, have threatened the environment and caused the disappearance of life sources for thousands of citizens living around the company's location. For the past 32 years that PT Kodeco has operated in South Kalimantan, it has destroyed parts of the Meratus Mountain area and caused other losses for communities in South Kalimantan. The Dayak Meratus community has especially been impacted and experienced the loss of sources of livelihood, the destruction of sacred places, and the loss of lands where they lived.

To address the threats that are now occurring in the Meratus Moutain range, we, the undersigned environmentalists, individuals and those associated with Indonesian organizations, state that we:

  1. Reject all forms of exploitation of the Meratus region, especially by PT. Kodeco logging, PT Placer Dome gold mining and pulp and paper mills.
  2. Support the Meratus community to defend their forest area from plans to destroy their area from whatever parties.
  3. Condemn the actions of parties forcing their will to exploit the Meratus Region before there is recognition of local community (indigenous) authority on natural resource management in the Meratus region.

Walhi South Kalimantan
Berry Nahdian Forqan
Meratus Alliance
M. Saleh
Rudy Redhani
LPMA South Borneo
Yasir Al Fatah
South Kalimantan Indigenous Community Alliance
Mido Basmi

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