MAC: Mines and Communities

Indonesia has yet to have criteria on mining environmental damages

Published by MAC on 2004-04-19

Indonesia has yet to have criteria on mining environmental damages

April 19, 2004

Environmental destruction in mining sector is not yet subject to penalties in Indonesia. It is because Indonesia has yet to have criteria on environmental damages in the sector. Such a situation will indeed be latent of triggering various conflicts between mining operators and the local people.

"It has been a big problem for Indonesian ministry of environment," said the Indonesian minister of environment, Nabiel Makarim, and deputy to minister for environmental control under the ministry, Isa Karmisa Ardiputra, at a press conference when announcing the result of ratings under the ministry's program on corporate environmental ratings (PROPER) in Jakarta on Apr.14.

"In mining sector we have yet to have criteria and parameters on how to know exactly the environmental damages caused by mining operations. It is a problem for the ministry on how to impose sanction to companies due to environmental damages in mining sector," said Minister Makarim as quoted from Kompas daily.

Any effort to set up criteria on damages of environment in mining sector has been made but so far there has yet to be confirmation on when the criteria will be completed. There is no reference on how to set up criteria on environmental damages in mining sector because no countries have so far set up such criteria on environmental damages in mining sector.

To create comprehensive criteria, a number of experts from universities in Indonesia will be involved. Ardiputra said, determination on criteria of environmental damages in mining sector has actually been started since 10 years ago but so far it has yet to be completed.

In this regard the Indonesian ministry of environment has conducted surveys and comparative study on how to implement the Proper program. The ministry has conducted researches in various countries including Australia to find out the most appropriate criteria on environmental damages caused by mining operations in Indonesia.

But most of countries applied their criteria on how to rate corporate performances without including criteria of environmental damages, particularly bymining operations. Environmental damages are usually not considered as a key factor on how to rate corporate performances.

Ardiputra commented, it could be so -- those developed countries do not set up their criteria on environmental damages -- because in fact their land spatial plans have been crystal clearly and appropriately fixed. In that way most mining activities in those countries hardly cause damages and pollutions to environment, thus the people have not suffered from bad impacts of mining activities.

On the other hand, in Indonesia the land spatial plan has so far been questionable and environmental damages caused by mining operations have emerged conflicts between mining companies and local people.

"In this regard we have to set up criteria on environmental damages caused by mining operations although we have to be different from those other countries," he said.

Not yet optimal

Executive Director of the Indonesian Forum of Environment (Walhi) Longgena Ginting told mass media in Jakarta, the 2004 Proper program conducted by the Indonesian ministry of environment remained partial and not comprehensive in covering various environmental problems in Indonesia.

The mechanism seemed to be half-heartedly made and the ministry of environment had made unserious policy. The ratings were not comprehensive.

"The Proper program cannot be claimed as a good effort to prevent damages of environment. The program cannot integrally solve various environmental problems in Indonesia," he emphasized. Moreover some technologies that are not environmentally-friendlily implemented by industrialists in Indonesia should have been declared prohibitive.

Because of not including criteria on environmental damages under the Proper program it can be perceived that Indonesian government has so far regarded environmental issues as something simple and unserious. "If the government just makes efforts to prevent pollutions without calculating the destructive effects over the ratings of the corporate performances, we can say that the government is not seriousness in solving the environmental problems," he assured.

What is more, it should be taken into account that transparency on determining the ratings of corporate performances is a must. So far the government's policy on incentive and disincentive to companies has been politically made rather than finding solution to environmental problems all over the country.

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