MAC: Mines and Communities

World Bank warns Indonesia incurs huge environmental cost from mining activities

Published by MAC on 2003-07-17

World Bank warns Indonesia incurs huge environmental cost from mining activities

July 17, 2003

The World Bank, in a report in the 2003 Indonesian Environmental Monitoring Journal, has said that Indonesia is one of many countries with very active mining activities. Some 50 out of 10,000 medium to large scale mining operations all over the world are in Indonesia.

There are also 349 small-scale mining operations in a total area of 1.8 million hectares. The 349 small operations, excluding illegal miners, are endorsed by Indonesian government through the Directorate general of mining.

Bisnis Indonesia daily said that the World Bank predicted that Indonesia would bear a huge cost of US$100 million for the polluted environment caused by mining operations. This will be needed for cleaning up and rehabilitation of environment. The most serious issue is the pollution from acid mines.

"The environmental cost excludes losses of biodiversity and ecologic malfunction," said WB in the journal. It estimated that the total cost for preservation and reclamation of environment that has been polluted by medium-scale mining will be as much as US$3 million a year. The calculation was based on estimate on environmental costs incurred by PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC) at US$0.23 per ton of wastes.

Most small-scale operators of gold and coalmines neglect the environment. The dominant impact is that of land erosion, sedimentation, disturbance of water sheds, mercury waste and lack of reclamation. The latest review by WB revealed that most medium scale miners, particularly the local miners, have been reckless in managing the environment. The locations of coalmines are usually close to rivers, which are directly contaminated with mining waste.

According to the WB, if the environment were not properly managed, the cost of reclamation would be much higher. Large-scale mining is highly risky in as much as it causes environmental disasters, which might cause long-term pollution to environment.

WB disclosed that over the past three years there have been 28 cases of environmental pollution caused by spills of mining wastes.

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