In Brief... DTE 48 - February 2001

Down to Earth No 48 February 2001

CIFOR researcher's body found in Aceh mass grave

A mass grave, containing 14 bodies was uncovered in Terbangan, Kluet Selatan, South Aceh in January. One has been identified as a researcher with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Bandung.

Three young researchers from CIFOR and a member of the Gunung Leuser national park management, disappeared in September 1999. The corpses of three women from Medan in neighbouring North Sumatra province were also found in the grave. (Koalisi HAM Aceh/Watch Indonesia!, 17/Jan/01. See DTE 47 for more on Aceh.)


2000: S. Kalimantan’s year of environmental destruction

WALHI South Kalimantan have dubbed 2000 the year of environmental destruction in the province. There are only 105,834 hectares of primary forests left, from a total of 3,753,052 hectares, - around 2.8%. During the year, protected forests were changed to production areas; illegal logging was rife, and the provincial government’s policies made things worse, says WALHI. Not one of the many land conflicts over plantation developments - eg the dispute between Kodeco and the people of Batulicin - was settled in a positive way for local communities.

The provincial assembly also approved the provincial spatial planning proposals for 2001-2005, which, says WALHI, presents “a preview of the destruction of South Kalimantan’s environment.”

WALHI has attacked the provincial authorities for failing to address problems caused by South Kalimantan’s huge coal-mining industry, which pollutes air, water and farmland. (Banjarmasin Post 18/Jan/01)


German investment in coal

An unnamed German investor, recruited at the Hanover Expo last year, plans to spend US$700 million on coal mining on Laut Island, South Kalimantan. According to an assistant to the South Kalimantan governor, Armain Janit, the funds would be used to provide technical assistance for underground mining technology, build infrastructure and provide transportation. The mining would be done by an Indonesian company, involving local people through cooperatives, and the product would be bought by the investor. If successful the model would also be implemented in other areas in South Kalimantan in a bid to fight against illegal mining. Armain said that the mining sites would be the areas formerly belonging to Australia-based PT Arutmin Indonesia, which controls around 10,000 hectares of mining concession on Laut Island. (Petromindo 28/Nov/00) See also p.12 for German involvement in South Kalimantan pulp project.


Riau farmers threaten to take over plantation land

Fifty-seven farming families in Riau have threatened to occupy and divide up 105, 000 ha of palm oil plantation land, which is in the process of being sold by the Indonesian conglomerate, Salim Group to the Malaysian company, Guthrie Bhd.

This is an example of a company’s assets being sold, complete with plantation concession permits, while totally bypassing local people. The Salim Group had said it would give the farmers priority if it sold the land.(, 24/Jan/01)


Bauxite mine in 2003

State-owned mining company PT Aneka Tambang says it expects a new bauxite mining project in Tayan, Sanggau district, West Kalimantan, to start production in 2003.

Operations director Harsojo Dihardjo said exploration has been completed and a feasibility study was now under preparation.115.5 million tons of proven reserves had been found, which would enable the mine to produce 600,000 tons of ore per year and 300,000 tons of chemical grade alumina per year. (This is an increase on previous estimates - see earlier reports in DTE 44.

According to Harsojo, PT Aneka Tambang is now negotiating with a potential foreign partner to develop the joint-venture project. He estimated that US$150 million for mine construction and processing facility would be needed. Aneka Tambang applied for a Contract of Work in November last year, and is still awaiting the outcome.

On a separate occasion, company director Aditya Sumanagara referred to a Japanese partner which would develop chemical grade alumina with a private Indonesian company. He said Aneka Tambang would “socialise” the project in Kalimantan, aiming to explain the project in detail and, at the same time, open negotiations to free up the land needed. A ‘comparative study’ group has been set up by the Sanggau district government, including technical staff, local government officials, local assembly members, community leaders and village heads. Aneka Tambang currently mines bauxite in Riau province. There have also been reports of some bauxite exploration work in the Mamberamo mega-project area, in northern West Papua. (Petromindo 27/Jan/01, Pontianak Post 26/Jan/01)