MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Poboya Community Reject Mining Plans in Protected Forest Area

Published by MAC on 2002-06-15


Poboya Community Reject Mining Plans in Protected Forest Area

Stop Mining, Save the Forest and the People!

The Indonesian Environment Minister Nabiel Makarim has given his approval to allow mining to go ahead in protected forests. This approval has been given to companies who possess a contract of work prior to the Forestry Act No. 41 becoming effective in 1999.

Some of these companies that have been given the green light to go ahead and mine in protected areas include PT.Gag Nikel (BHP Billiton), PT. Weda Bay Nikel, PT. Nusa Halmahera and PT.Citra Palu Mineral (Rio Tinto).

These measures being taken by the Environment Minister are clearly backwards with respect to the desires of the community. The government has used economic reasons while also expressing fear of being fined by mining companies.

The government apparently has not learned from past experiences where mining activities have left only environmental destruction and other major problems for the community like human rights violations, indigenous community marginalization, land alienation, poverty for local communities, horizontal conflicts, various incidences of violence and intimidation.

The government has also not taken into account the aspirations of the community that live at and near mining locations.

Immediately following the Minister's announcement, the Poboya community protested. Community protestors have visited the local House of Representative's office rejecting the changing of the status of the Poboya Community Forest Park Area into a mining area. Community demonstrations at Poboya have been going since Monday (17/6), the latest in the community efforts to stop PT Citra Palu Mineral (PT CPM) from gold mining in their protected forest area.

The following is position statement from the Poboya Community issued June 17, 2002, that reaffirms the position of the community not to allow mining to go ahead.


Stop Mining in Poboya Forest Park Area Now!!!

We, the Poboya Community, state with the steps of PT. Citra Palu Minerals (Rio Tinto owned) and the Palu municipal government to gain acceptance of gold mining in the Poboya region and surrounding areas comes a future disaster. This is based on the fact there are no mining activities anywhere that have not been destructive.

PT CPM has left 41 bore holes during three phases of exploration from 1996-1999 in the area. This company has never been open to us about issues relating to mineral potential and the impacts that will later be felt by the community. Instead, the company and the municipal government officials have been pushing for the community to accept the mining plans by feeding promises of employment and profit to the community in order to gain public acceptance of the mine.

However, we have heard testimonies from the Kelian community who have been impacted by PT KEM operations (also owned and operated by Rio Tinto), the Buyat Bay community and the Amugme community in Papua. Similar cases in other places are too numerous to mention and these areas and peoples have also been victimized by human rights violations, sexual abuse as well as environmental and ecosystem destruction. Experiences of the communities in the areas mentioned above provide evidence that, whether the impacts are covered up or brought to the surface, community rights are being alienated and the environment is being destroyed by the mining industry. This industry has also not taken into account the survival of future generations.

For the above reasons, we, the Poboya Community state that :

1. It is not true that the Poboya community has agreed with mining plans which was documented in the media on October 12, 2002. 2. We reject gold mining in our region done by PT.CPM or any other companies. 3. We demand that the Governor, Palu municipal government and all associated bodies as soon as possible issue policies to stop gold mining plans in our region, the Poboya village and the Kambuno Mountains. 4. We call on the Palu citizens and all interested parties concerned about environmental and social impacts to support our position statement about gold mining plans located only 3 kilometers from the Mutiara airport and 7 kilometers from the center of the city. 5. We oppose all efforts of the government, PT CPM and other parties to push the community to accept the gold mining plans. 6. We strongly protest the governmentís position that favours the interests of the government and PT CPM of finding profits rather than the interests of the community as actual owners of the land in the region. Turning our region into a mining region means taking away our rights to life because from this region we are able to sustain our lives. The region planned to be mined includes one of the major suppliers of drinking water for the community in the Palu Valley. If this gold mining project goes ahead, our community as well as the community living in the Palu Valley region will also face the threat of the loss of their source of drinking water. Thus, we also ask the Palu citizens to join in our protest and reject the gold mining plans.

We, hereby bring forth this position statement as an attention to all parties, mainly the government, central and local, as well as to PT. Citra Palu Minerals and/or any mining companies.

Palu, 17 June 2002 Poboya Community

Adjaliman Coordinator

For further information, please contact: Arwansyah, SPRA, Palu 62 (0) 451 456 919 Siti Maimunah, JATAM, mai@jatam.org, 62 (0)21 794 1559


Nabiel Makarim Agrees with Mining in Protected Forests

Koran Tempo Friday, 14 June 2002 (translated by JATAM)

Jakarta- Environment State Minister Nabiel Makarim agrees with allowing mining to go ahead in protected forests where contracts of work established prior to the Act No. 41/1999 about Forestry.

"Based on the agreement, we bring forth the commitment and state that we agree with mining activities to go ahead in areas where contracts of work were signed prior to the establishement of the Act," he stated in Jakarta yesterday.

He clarified that the agreement to allow mining activities in protected forests was given because there was a legal threat. "There were investment activities before the Forestry Act was effective. If shut down, investors demand and Indonesia cannot pay."

According to Nabiel, mining activities in protected forests will only be allowed in areas where contracts were signed prior to 1999. There are only two options, allow the return of investment activities or else leave Indonesia paying fines.

"We have decided to allow mining to go ahead. For new contracts made in protected forest areas, this cannot be disturbed via charges," he stated. To resolve kemelut mining activities in protected forests, Nabiel suggested to the House of Representatives to immediately make amendments to the Forestry Act. If this decision proceeds and mining activities are only based on agreements between the commission of the House of Representatives, it is said that this decision does not have legal power.

Regarding environmental issues, Nabiel recognized that there is already an acknowledgment of the impacts that will be caused if mining activities go ahead in protected forests. But the government has no other choice. He hopes that if environmental destruction does result, the impacts will be minimalized as much as possible.

Before this the Director General of Geology and Mineral Resources Wimpi S. Tjejep stated that laws forbid open-pit mining in protected forest areas. For investors, he stated, evaluating these regulations are not in accordance with mining conditions in Indonesia that are indeed of open-pit nature.

Now, there are 150 mining companies that have signed contracts prior to the Act being effective. From this total, 50 companies are doing operational activities in protected areas.

"All contracts signed, already have the agreement of the House of Representatives and cannot be cancelled just like that by the government," he stated. Wimpie stated that four mining companies have increased their investment in the East Indonesian region at a value of US$ 3.2 billion, up until now cannot be operated because hindred by the Act.

These four companies are PT.Gag Nikel, PT. Weda Bay Nikel, PT. Nusa Halmahera and PT.Citra Palu Mineral. The activities were set to begin in 2001.

Based on data from the Director General of Geology and Mineral Resources, if investment activities in forest areas are forbidden, there are several possible losses that will result. The loss of employment opportunities of 33 thousand people at 22 companies and a potential fiscal revenue loss of as much as US$ 900 million.

Total investment of 22 companies with mining ventures in protected forest areas up until 2001is as large as US$ 12.2 billion. Up until now, production cannot be done because it is hindered by the Act.

Among companies mining in protected forests are Freeport Indonesia (A) with an investment total of US$ 4.9 billion, Freeport Indonesia (B) with an investment total of US$ 198 million, Newmont Nusa Tenggara US$ 2.7 billion, International Nikel Indonesia US$ 2.2 billion and PT Gag Nikel US$ 40 million. (Ali Nur Yasin)

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