MAC: Mines and Communities

No more permits for submarine tailings placements [in Indonesia] says Sonny Keraf

Published by MAC on 2001-05-08

No more permits for submarine tailings placements says Sonny Keraf
- Petromindo, Tuesday, May 8 2001

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

The [Indonesian] government will no longer issue permits for the construction of any submarine tailings placements due to the growing concerns over the impact of the undersea dumping ground to the environment, State Minister of Environmental Affairs Sonny Keraf said as reported by Kompas daily on Tuesday.

"I prefer not to issue more permits for the submarine tailings placement. Two are enough," he said after a meeting with local and international environment activists at his office on Friday.

Sonny, who is also the chairman of the agency for the control of environmental impacts, acknowledged that the issuance of permits to Newmont Corporation to build submarine tailings placement in its mining sites its North Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara was not based on a through study.

But he promised that the government would cooperate with environmental experts and Newmont to minimize the impact of the two submarine tailings grounds to the environment. He also said that his office was also preparing a number of approaches including sanction to ensure that Newmont would be able to reduce the negative impact of the undersea tailings grounds.

The environmental office had also established an investigation team comprising of environmental experts and Newmont to study the impact of the two undersea tailings placements. "The team has started its investigation work since February and will last for one and half a years.

Indonesian environmental group Walhi has repeatedly called on the United States-based Newmont Corporation to close submarine tailings placements, which it said has caused several environmental damages.

Walhi's executive director Emmy Hafild said in Jakarta on Monday that the environmental group would continue to fight for the closure of the submarine tailings dumping grounds.

"The system to dump tailings into the sea could not be justified. They therefore should be closed," she said.

The operations of the undersea tailings grounds have caused for concerns not only to non-governmental groups but also to local residents. They feared that the underground dumping grounds would not only destroy the sea environment but also would affect the lives of the people living near the dumping sites.

Newmont has denied all the charges.

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