North Sulawesi Governor opposes Toka Tindung gold projectPublished by MAC on 2007-02-17
North Sulawesi Governor opposes Toka Tindung gold project
JATAM, 14/02/07 - The North Sulawesi Provincial Government has opposed the operation of PT Meares Soputan Mining (MSM) Toka Tindung gold mine in North Minahasa regency fearing that the company's mining activities would damage the environment.
Speaking during a hearing with the House of Representative (DPR) last week, North Sulawesi Governor Sinyo Harry Sarundajang said that his office had formally sent a letter to the State Minister of Environment to convey the local government's decision to reject the Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL). With the rejection of the AMDAL documents, the company would not be able to continue its operation.
Sarundajang said that the AMDAL documents which had received approval from the Jakarta Environmental Authority were not adequate enough to protect the environment around the company's mining site which is located near the Likupang marine conservation area and the protected Tangkoko forest area.
"We are not against foreign investors but our local people need environmentally sound investments," the Governor told the hearing. Referring to the local government's study, he said that the company's mining waste disposable system had the potential to wipe out important species in the marine and forest conservation areas.
Sarundajang told the lawmakers who attended the hearing that there had been thorough analysis and discussion involved in reaching the decision. He asserted that the project would threaten the adjacent Tangkoko Nature Reserve, Likupang beach, and marine tourism spot known in the international diving community as the Marine Biodiversity Golden Triangle.
JATAM's research has revealed that the project poses high risks to the local water supply as it plans to consume more than a million litres of water each day for its gold processing. This water supply would also be used for silver processing, workers' drinking water, and waste management.
The other risks posed by the project include safety issues. The Toka Tindung project is located in a hilly area where thousands of people live downhill. The placement of a large tailing dam, open pit mine, and waste rock dumping in areas prone to volcanic and tectonic earthquakes will put the lives of the local people in danger. Just recently on January 23, 2007, the province was hit by an earthquake that registered 5.7 on the Richter scale. Last year in November, the nearby Mount Soputan erupted and poured vast amounts of lava and dust, and caused an earthquake. There have been 221 incidents of tailing dam failures caused by nature (earthquake, storm, heavy rain) and human error reported around the world.
The project had been put on hold but has recently started up again with it being taken switching owners from Aurora Gold in 2002 to Archipelago Resources. There has been staunch local opposition to the Toka Tindung project since early 2006 by thousands in the fishing and tourism sectors who fear that the mine will cause pollution that will jeopardize their livelihoods. The project is backed by four large international financial institutions; NM Rotchilds & Sons (UK), West LB (Germany), ANZ (Australia), and Societe Generale (France). These institutions are neglecting their commitments to several sustainable development principles that they have signed on to with regards to their project financing such as the Equator Principles and the UN Financial Institutions’ Statement on Sustainable Development.