MAC: Mines and Communities

Governor backs ban on Rio Tinto's gold mine

Published by MAC on 2003-04-17

Governor backs ban on Rio Tinto's gold mine

The Jakarta Post

April 17 2003

Palu, Central Sulawesi - The Central Sulawesi provincial government has reiterated its refusal to let the Indonesian subsidiary of Australian mining giant Rio Tinto enter a protected forest to mine for gold. "As stated before, we still don't agree to letting this area be turned into a gold mine," said Governor Aminuddin Ponulele on Tuesday to a crowd of some 100 activists protesting the plans to open the forest to mining.

Rio Tinto's Indonesian subsidiary PT Citra Palu Minerals is unable to mine the area known as the Great Forest Park (Tahura) after the issuance of Law No. 41/1999 on forestry, which bans mining in protected forests. Tahura is about one kilometer away from the provincial capital of Palu, and protesters said they would reject any mining operations that came close to the city. "If the valley is mined, people in Palu will be covered in dust every day. This will also disrupt flights arriving here," said Dedy Irawan, who led Tuesday's protest.

However, Rio Tinto spokesman Anang Rizkani Noor said the company was no longer interested in mining the Tahura area. He said the company viewed the mining deposits as unfeasible although other investors might be interested. Citra Palu, he added, obtained the mining contract in 1997 before Tahura became a protected forest, and before the Forest Law was issued.

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