Down to Earth No. 47, November 2000

Indigenous miners evicted

There has been further conflict at indigenous mining lands inside the PT Indo Muro Kencana gold concession operated by Australia's Aurora Gold in Central Kalimantan.

Families from the local Dayak Siang, Murung and Bekumpai communities were hauled out of their beds and forced onto trucks by heavily armed mobile brigade police forces early on June 7th. Their possessions were thrown on the ground, their homes were then torn down and fifteen people were arrested. The raid was carried out under Presidential decree No 3/2000 which regulates illegal mining, but Indonesian NGOS argue that this does not apply to traditional miners like the Dayaks who started extracting gold in the area long before large-scale mining started. In response to an appeal from JATAM, Down to Earth wrote to the Indonesian government and national and local police in support of NGO demands. These included the release of arrested community members and an apology for the misuse of the presidential decree.

Fifteen members of the traditional mining community visited Jakarta in June to press home their demands.

Since the June eviction there have been more reports of conflict at the mine, with local miners attempting to reoccupy mining sites and local police taking action to stop them. One local miner told the Kalteng Pos newspaper that an alternative area allocated under the 'peoples mining area' (WPR) scheme, did not interest him because it was difficult to mine and had low potential. Another man from Konut village said "Why, in this era of reform, does the government not pay attention to the people's aspirations when mining has been the livelihood of people in this area for generations, even before IMK…". (For further background on this case see DTE 43:9)

(Kapos 5/Aug/00; DTE letter 14/Jun/00; Kerebok Vol 1 No.2 June 2000; Bpost Sep/no date, via Walhi Kalteng)

German bank supports IMK mine

A new study "German banks in debt to the developing World - Effects of German banking business on Brazil and Indonesia" includes information on the Aurora gold mine, financed by Dresdner Bank. The German language report is published by Suedwind e.V. Institute for Economics and Ecumenism. It also contains information on German financing for the Kaltim Prima Coal mine, the Aneka Tambang mine in West Java, the Gresik copper smelter (which processes copper from the Freeport mine) and the PT TEL pulp mill in South Sumatra.

West Kalimantan farmers protest mining pollution

While traditional small-scale mining using simple equipment is not usually harmful to the environment, the unlicensed mining going on in many parts of Kalimantan using mercury is causing grave pollution problems. The problem has increased since the economic crisis began in 1997-8.

In July, Pontianak Pos reported that West Kalimantan's Community Forum for the Victims of Unlicenced Mining was pressing the authorities to do something about the environmentally damaging mining polluting the River Tayan. A written statement signed by 130 villagers in the upper Tayan area calls for action against the mining, which is reducing fish stocks in the river. Fishing is the main livelihood of local people. Villagers said they were not against mining as long as it does not harm other people.
(Pontianak Pos 14/Ju/00)

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