MAC: Mines and Communities

Increased pollution from British mine in Indonesia

Published by MAC on 2003-12-23

Increased pollution from British mine in Indonesia

Rio Tinto is due to close its huge Kelian gold mine (KEM) in Indonesian East Kalimantan next year - and will quit the province completely a few laters later. But the mine's continuing discharge of toxic metals to regional waterways now appears to have risen even further. Local government and people want to know why - and what the company is going to do about it.

West Kutai calls for clarification from PT Kelian


December 23, 2003

The local government (Pemda) of West Kutai regency (East Kalimantan), through the local parliaments (DPRD) urged PT Kelian Equatorial Mining (KEM) to clarify about the increase of heavy metal content and mercury anomaly in rivers of the regency.

DPRD speaker of West Kutai Drs Y Juan Jenau MBA as quoted from local daily Kaltim Post recently requested that the company, whose gold production will end next year, clarify the case as a follow up to the letter sent by the Pemda signed by the regional secretary to the director of PT KEM with carbon copy to the DPRD of West Kutai to the company's management.

The letter was a follow up to the letter from the provincial office of the environmental impact control (Bapedalda) of East Kalimantan stating that there has been a rise of heavy metal content in rivers of the regency. The heavy metals like manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and Antimony (Sb) could be found at the estuary of Kelian River and area downstream of Nakan River. The content of aluminum (Al) also rose both in Buan and Babi rivers. All those rivers are part of the Mahakam River. "In that regard KEM should clarify on such a rise of heavy metal content in the rivers and give solution to the case," he said.

The DPRD also called on the company to explain about mercury in the rivers. KEM has so far stored 939.4 kg of mercury and the mercury storage has actually been secure. The DPRD, however, wondered until when the company will keep the mercury because next year all the company's mining activities will end. The company should expose its ways of handling all the issues.

In the letter KEM was also asked to clarify to the Bapedalda about the current condition of rivers in the regency. The company should give the answer and all related data with carbon copy to the regent of West Kutai Ir Rama A Asia.

The letter from the Pemda of West Kutai was also carbon-copied to state minister of environment in Jakarta, Governor of East Kalimantan, Speaker of the DPRD of West Kutai, Head of mining and mineral resources division of East Kalimantan, Head of environmental division of West Kutai, head of the Bawaskab, and Sub district head of Linggang Bigung. *


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