MAC: Mines and Communities

Indonesia: NGO denounces Kulon Progo violence and government's "green rating" of mines

Published by MAC on 2009-11-16
Source: JATAM (2009-10-23)

Indonesia's leading mining advocacy organisation, JATAM, has deplored police violence used on protestors who demonstrated against an Australian iron ore project last month.

Claiming this to be just one example of the government "putting foreign investor interests above those of the local communities", JATAM also criticises Indonesia's Ministry of Environment for making "green" awards to specific mining companies.

JATAM says that official approval of operations by US gold miner, Newmont, and the world's biggest private copper producer, Freeport-Rio Tinto, shows the Ministry has now become a "mere guardian for environmental criminals."

JATAM condemns the violence at a proposed Australian-owned iron mine; calls for the protection of Kulon Progo's people and coastal ecosystem

JATAM Press Release

23 October 2009

While President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was celebrating his second inauguration in Jakarta as President of Indonesia on October 20, 2009, police brutality towards the people of Kulon Progo of Central Java for protesting against the Australian mining company PT Jogja Mangasa Iron, which left 41 people injured. What happened that day is one of many examples of how the government has put foreign investor interests above the local communities' interests. The Kulon Progo communities rely on agriculture as their livelihood.

On October 20, 2009, thousands of people from Kulon Progo marched to the local Kulon Progo government office to voice their resistance to mining in their area. They refused the public consultation offered by the company and said no to any plans to mine in their community. The community members view consultation as a strategy to legitimize mining in their community.

PT JMI received their controversial Contract of Work on November 4, 2008, at a time when the Parliament was drafting the new Mining and Coal Act. While strongly criticizing the Contract of Work regime of the old Law No. 11/1967, the government was granting a permit to mine to PT JMI. They received a Contract of Work one month before the new Act was passed.

Indo Mine Ltd. from Australia holds 70% of PT JMI's shares. They plan to operate in a 22 km long and 2.8 km wide area along the southern coast of Kulon Progo to Bogowoto River in Jogjakarta. The extraction of iron puts the livelihoods of 123,601 local farmers and fishers at risk.

PT JMI plans also threatens massive erosion along the coast of Kulon Progo in the Indian Ocean. Damaged ecosystems will not be able to stop the strong currents and sea winds from eroding the coast line. The site is also prone to earthquakes and a potential tsunami.

The proposed mine threatens a unique ecosystem and would move sand dunes in Kulon Progo which also serve as a migration corridor of migratory birds. Dr. Dja'far Shiddieq, soil expert from Gadjah Mada University, mentioned that the sand dunes of southern Jogjakarta, including Kulon Progo's, are one of only three moving sand dunes in the world.

Protests against the mine have been held by local communities many times but the local government continues to insist that mining would increase the welfare of the people. However, no large-scale mining operation in Indonesia has ever proven to enhance the welfare of local people. PT Freeport and Strait Resources in Papua, Rio Tinto in Kalimantan, and Laverton Gold in Sumatera are only a few examples of intensified poverty brought on by mining. Mine affected communities experience many hardships including human rights violations and worsening poverty.

"The Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) condemns the police violence to secure PT JMI's interests. Local government should use common sense. Bending over backwards to support or protect PT JMI will only bring more poverty. Mining heavily depends on the market and many of the benefits from mining are short term while the problems with mining are long term. Kulon Progo has been living sustainably from their local resources for decades," said Siti Maemunah, National Coordinator of JATAM.

JATAM supports Kulon Progo communities resistance to iron ore mining in their communities. The threat of future violence in the communities is very real given the level of violence the communities have already experienced because of the proposed mine. JATAM urges the government of Indonesia to nullify PT JMI's Contract of Work and immediately support the local sustainable economic development of the local people.


Indonesian government rates environmental performance of companies

JATAM Press Release

16 October 2009

On Thursday, October 15, 2009, the State Minister for the Environment announced the results of environmental performance rankings of companies known as the Proper Rating System. JATAM - the Mining Advocacy Network- is shocked to learn that companies with a large ecological footprint operating in Kalimantan, Sumbawa, Aceh, and Papua have received blue and green rates. Unfortunately, the rating system has become a tool for greenwashing and the Ministry of Environment have become mere guardians for environmental criminals.

Giving a green rate to PT. Newmont Nusa Tenggara does not make sense. The American-based company dumps 120,000 tons of tailings everyday into Senunu Bay of Sumbawa island. The total amount of tailings disposed into this bay has reached a half a billion tons. The Proper Rating System does not address the environmental concerns of the Newmont affected community. These concerns include a water crisis and the dramatic decline of fish along the Sumbawa coast they link to Newmont's mining activities. Newmont's environmental impact is expected to increase with their plans to open 38 hectares of Dodo Rinti protected forest for an expansion of their mine. By failing to address the reality of the environmental impacts caused by this mining company, the Proper Rating System is prolonging environmental crimes in Sumbawa.

JATAM is also perplexed with the rewarding of the PT. Freeport gold and copper mine with a blue rate. Freeport is widely known for their environmental abuses. More than 1.8 billion tons of tailings have been disposed by this company into rivers and seas in Indonesia. The State Minister of Environment feels that PT. Freeport has compiled with the country's environmental regulations but their environmental crimes are not disputable. There is a high degree of poverty suffered by Amungme and other tribes in Papua's central mountains. The forest have destroyed on the Etsberg and Grasberg mountains by PT. Freeport. Everyday, 220,000 tons of tailings are generated and disposed into the local ecosystem by this company affecting the lowlands, Ajkwa river estuary and mangrove forest. Freeport enjoys full support from Proper and the State Minister of Environment, Rahmat Witoelar, while Papua's ecosystems and people suffer.

PT. Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC) is another company receiving a "green" rank. Abu Rizal Bakrie, a prominent business man and leader in the Golkar political party, owns 65% of KPC's stocks. How a huge coal extraction operation is able to receive a "green" rating is ridiculous. KPC's operations have ruined the rivers of Bengalon, Sengata and Sekerat. The three rivers in East Kutai District of East Kalimantan support hundreds of thousands of people. KPC's activities have caused floods and hardship for the local people. The land appropriation and environmental damage has also resulted in systematic poverty. At least 45% of the poor people in the East Kutai District live near KPC.

The three above cases are only a few of the many companies receiving a notable rank by Proper in 2009. "Proper is a portrait of failures of State Minister of Environment's program and Rahmat Witoelar as the Minister. This program has no clear criteria and clearly does not benefit the environment. This ranking program must be stopped since it is weakening environment law enforcement and becoming a tool to protect environmental crimes not the environment," said Siti Maemunah, JATAM National Coordinator.

JATAM calls on the Corruption Eradication Commission to investigate the corruption in the Proper program. Moreover, the Proper ranking is being used by companies to get access to loans from banks and financial institutions.

JATAM also calls on the Human Rights commission to similarly act and investigate the role of Proper in weakening the rights of people living near mining sites.

Contact: Siti Maimunah, mai@jatam.org

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