MAC: Mines and Communities

Indonesia update

Published by MAC on 2007-08-31

Indonesia update

31st August 2007

Human Rights Groups defend WALHI against terrorism slur

Joint Press Release by Indonesian Human Rights Groups

31st August 2007


Human Rights Working Group; Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras); Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial); Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI); Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI); Institute for Policy Studies and Advocacy (ELSAM); Demos Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies; Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta).

Indonesian human rights groups have defended WALHI against accusations made by Australian Senator Ian MacDonald and President Director of Newmont Minahasa Raya Richard Ness that the Indonesian Forum for Environment/Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) is affiliated with terrorist groups in Indonesia. The groups view the false claims as a reckless, manipulative and anti-democratic act, aimed at curtailing the freedom of human rights defenders.

In his speech in the Australian Senate on 9 August 2007, Senator MacDonald claimed that WALHI is allied with terrorist organisations in Indonesia, in similar language to that used in a letter sent to various parties and published on the internet by the President Director of Newmont Minahasa Raya. The accusations included repeating false claims made in a Straits Times newspaper article of 22 April 2006.

We have long known WALHI, which is the largest environment organisation in Indonesia, with 438 member organisations and which has been operating for over 27 years to defend the environment. WALHI clearly takes seriously its commitments to pluralism, democratic principles and non-violence, and is opposed to terrorism. The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), and the Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) are active members of WALHI. The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), the Institute for Policy Studies and Advocacy (ELSAM), the Demos Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, and the Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) are strategic partners of WALHI in advocacy work on environment protection and human rights. In addition, as an organisation which campaigns for human rights, WALHI itself is an active member of the Human Rights Working Group.

Stigmatising an environmental and human rights organisation as being a part of a terrorist network severely impedes its ongoing advocacy work. We view these false accusations as part of a systematic attempt to distract the public by human rights and environment offenders who have been exploiting Indonesia’s natural resources. PT Newmont Minahasa Raya is currently facing a public interest civil lawsuit by WALHI over impacts on the environment and livelihoods in Buyat Bay, North Sulawesi, part of WALHI’s ongoing advocacy which began seven years ago. WALHI together with other environment and human rights groups also conducts advocacy in cases involving other Australian mining companies such as PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals (Newcrest Australia) in North Maluku since 2004.

We therefore:

1. Convey our strong protest against the acts of Senator Ian MacDonald and President Director Newmont Minahasa Raya Richard Ness in falsely claiming that WALHI / Friends of the Earth Indonesia is involved with terrorist networks;

2. Urge Senator Ian MacDonald and President Director Newmont Minahasa Raya Richard Ness to withdraw their claims against WALHI which are not based on facts and strong evidence;

3. Urge the President of the Australian Senate and the Directors of Newmont in the United States to immediately take firm steps against the claims made by Senator Ian MacDonald and President Director Newmont Minahasa Raya Richard Ness;

4. Support all environmental advocacy efforts made by WALHI / Friends of the Earth Indonesia in continuing to oppose environmental offenders and to protect Indonesia’s natural resources.

Jakarta, 31 August 2007

Rafendi Djamin (HRWG) / Usman Hamid (KontraS) / Asmara Nababan (DEMOS) / Poengky Indarti (Imparsial) / Agung Putri (ELSAM) / Patra M. Zen (YLBHI) / Asfinawati (LBH Jakarta) / Syamsudin Radjab (PBHI)

Bintan bauxite mines may be closed for good, sources say

Metal Bulletin, Singapore

29th August 2007

Bauxite mining in Indonesia’s west Bintan region is unlikely to resume quickly following shutdowns earlier this month, with some market participants suggesting that affected mines may be permanently closed.

“We heard that it could be a permanent shutdown due to pollution caused by all the mining,” an official from Shandong Chiping Xinfa Huayu Alumina Co told MB.

Officials in Bintan also said they do not expect a quick resolution to the issue.

“There may only be a decision after November, as that's when the local government will begin negotiations with miners,” said an official from a Bintan-based miner.

“Because the land is for a water project, you can’t have mining going on in the area,” he added.

Bintan, an island just south of Singapore, is an important bauxite production base for Indonesia, which is the largest supplier of bauxite to Chinese alumina refineries.

The Indonesian central government has ordered miners in the west of the island to stop operations as it wants land set aside for a water project. The order came despite the local government having already issued licences allowing eight bauxite miners to work the land, according to a source in Bintan (MB Aug 16).

Chinese alumina refineries have been playing down the impact of the stoppage and have maintained that their alumina production has not suffered as most supplies do not come from the affected area.

The affected mines produce around 300,000 tpm of bauxite, not the 800,000 tpm claimed by miners in Bintan, the Chiping official estimated.

“Some of the mining leases were going to expire in July anyway,” he added.

The stoppage in Bintan has not provided support for Chinese domestic alumina prices, which are continuing to slide on rising domestic supply, market participants reported.

Domestic alumina prices are reported at 3,450-3,550 yuan ($457-470) per tonne duty paid, down 50 yuan from 3,500-3,600 yuan per tonne a week ago.

A few unconfirmed deals are said to taking place in the 3,400-3,450 yuan per tonne range. This is unlikely to be representative of the market, though prices are likely to slip further in the near future, market participants said.

“I think by next week 3,400-3,450 yuan per tonne will be the main transacted price,” predicted Shan Guibin, a manager with Chinese information provider Chinaccm.

Some analysts have warned that it may be too early to gauge how big an impact the Bintan stoppage will have on Chinese alumina production, despite the optimistic statements from refineries.

“People are saying that there is no big effect now. Then again, the refineries typically announce the good news and not the bad,” a Shanghai-based aluminium analyst noted.

Indonesia orders bauxite mining halt in Bintan

Metal Bullein, Singapore

16th August 2007

The Indonesian central government has ordered miners in the west of Bintan island, one of Indonesia’s two main production bases and a major supplier to alumina refineries in China, to halt bauxite mining, sources told MB.

“The central government sent a memorandum in the last three or four days,” said an official from a Bintan miner.

The bauxite mining area in west Bintan normally produces around 800,000 tpm of bauxite in total, he said. Output in the other parts of Bintan, where production is continuing, is estimated at 200,000 tpm, he said.

The local government had issued licences allowing up to eight bauxite miners to mine the and, but the central government wants the land set aside for a water project, he said.

“That is according to a plan [by the central government] in 1997 but the local government has already given the licences and mining has been going on for at least half a year,” the source added.

The miners are allowed to continue selling stock but are not allowed to mine further, he said, adding that it is not clear whether all the mines have adhered to the government’s order.

An official from a miner in west Bintan confirmed to MB that his company has completely stopped bauxite mining, though he declined to provide details.

An official from one of China’s major alumina refineries Shandong Chiping Xinfa Huayu Alumina Co also confirmed to MB that some mining areas in west Bintan have halted production.

“We understand there are no problems on the smaller islands near to Bintan. It is mining on Bintan itself that is affected,” he said, citing the companies’ suppliers in Bintan.

Chiping has not gauged how large an effect this will have on its production, as the company is still trying to find out more information, he said. But he added that a few of the companies’ main suppliers have assured his company of supply.

“Some of our suppliers say they still have stock, and apparently some mining is still going on on the sly,” he said.

About 90 percent of Chiping’s bauxite feed comes from Bintan and Kalimantan, the other of Indonesia’s main bauxite production base.


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