Watchdog Accuses Companies of Mining in Conservation Area
By Tunggadewa Mattangkilang on 09:14 am Mar 18, 2014
Category Business, Corruption, Crime, Environment, Featured, News, Sustainability
Tags: conservation, East Kalimantan, mining
A general view of a coal mining area in Samarinda, East Kalimantan. (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)
Balikpapan. A mining watchdog group in East Kalimantan says that a number of companies are using conservation areas in the region for mining activities.
According to the East Kalimantan Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) data showed that up to 42 licenses were issued for mining activities within the Hutan Raya Conservation Park in Bukit Soeharto, Kutai Kartanegara, of which 31 were issued in a 1991 decree by the Forestry Ministry and 11 in a 2009 ministerial decree.
“It isn’t only operational licenses, but there are also five coal hauling lanes within the conservation park. The state losses — if calculated using the non-tax state revenue method — would stand at Rp 18.1 trillion [$1.6 billion] from 2008 until today,” said Merah Johansyah of Jatam. “It is accumulated over five years, and the losses could be higher because this is only a partial calculation. There are other losses that have not been included in the calculations.”
Merah said that the 1991 ministerial decree shows that among the companies working in the conservation area are Moreseni Indonesia Pratama, with a mining area of 1,991 hectares, 50.4 hectares of which are located within the conservation park
Additionally, the 2009 ministerial decree mentions Tuah Bumi Etam with a 65,000-hectare mining area, 64,000 of which are located within the Hutan Raya Conservation Park, while companies identified as Lembuswana Perkasa and Energi Bumi Kartanegara reportedly owned hauling lanes from 2007 and 2010 respectively.
Jatam says it has filed the case to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) late in 2013, with regional officials and Forestry Ministry officials being named in its report.
“We have reported this case to the KPK, so we hope the KPK will immediately launch an investigation into this case so it can put behind bars the officials or businesses who have caused damage to the environment,” Merah said.
He also called on Kutai Kartanegara district chief Rita Widyasari to look into the matter and revoke operational licenses that were issued in violation of the law.
“The licenses have to be revoked if [the authorities] are serious in cleaning up the mining sector in Kutai Kartanegara, especially where bad mining companies are concerned,” he said.
Mining gold, ruining rivers in Kalimantan
Severianus Endi, The Jakarta Post, Pontianak, West Kalimantan | Environment | Tue, September 24 2013, 11:43 AM
In the clear: Residents of Sungai Daka in front of one of the tributaries providing clean water for their village.
Wildcat miners searching for gold in the rivers lying deep in the heart of West Kalimantan are creating long-term chemical hazards that are threatening the water supply of nearby communities.
“Gold mining continues to increase, generally in river stream areas,” Hendrikus Adam, a campaign manager for the provincial office of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Wahli), said. “Rivers actually constitute an inseparable part of the life of local residents.”
According to Adam, unlicensed gold miners are making arrangements with “important persons” who determine if the wildcats can continue — or if the operation gets shut down.
“Equipment owners and workers from other areas are usually employed, while residents only become onlookers, with only a handful involved, Adam said. “Locals are thus more engaged in their daily activities such as tapping rubber sap, farming and gathering forest products.”
Free time: Children play on stones protruding from the bed of the Laur River.
One such threatened site is Sungai Daka village in Ketapang regency, about 250 kilometers from the provincial capital, Pontianak.
The Laur River, which spans about 50 meters at its maximum, passes through the village. The stream bears traces of gold mining. Its water is muddy and brownish.
The people here say that unlicensed gold mining has been underway in the river’s upper reaches for more than four years, even reaching the edge of the village before it was halted. “The river’s water has never again been clear,” local resident Kacim, 46, says. “Actually, we used to drink this water.”
They have not given up though. Another local resident, Piyun, 35, said that the community searched for new sources of water, discovering several tributaries and springs in the forest behind their settlement.
Pure: After wildcat mining fouled the Laur River, local residents searched for tributaries and springs such as this one to meet their daily needs.
The water is clear enough for drinking and cooking. The residents only use water from the Laur River for washing.
So another activity has been added to the villagers’ daily routine: mencauk — going together to with rattan baskets full of used plastic bottles to find clean water.
Water works: Another activity has been added to the villagers’ daily routine: mencauk – going together with rattan baskets full of used plastic bottles to find clean water.
Topping off: A resident of Sungai Daka fills empty bottles with clean water from a spring.
Speedy delivery: A resident of Sungai Daka delivers fresh water to his neighbors.
“We’ve built rafts on the banks of tributaries and moved the water pumps previously placed on the shores of the Laur River,” Piyun said.
Toman, one of those formerly engaged in unlicensed mining, claimed that he had quit the business, which he said was not profitable. The 34-year-old currently works supplying basic sundries to his neighbors.
“There were times when I earned Rp 12 million (US$1,048) within a week, but we can’t always produce gold on a daily basis,” Toman said. “A big gain is sometimes followed by nothing later on.”
The minimum investment for a wildcat miner tops Rp 100 million, with about half earmarked for a boat with suction dredges and the remainder for hoses, fuel, operating costs, rent and contributions to the village treasury.
Gold mining typically begins with a survey of the area. When the potential to find gold is recorded
Although there’s no standard deal, owners typically receive 20 percent of the profits, workers get 30 percent, and the investor and the village treasury 50 percent.
Mining involves a dredge that raises sand from the river bed and another that sprays the sand to separate impurities from gold-bearing grains. With the aid of mercury, which is poisonous, the grains are amalgamated.
Fouled: Wildcat miners have dumped mercury used in the gold extraction process into the river, poisoning the water.
Here contamination sets in, as the mercury is later dumped into the river.
Grains contain different grades of gold, which determine their prices. So-called pure gold, with a purity of 99.9 percent, costs about Rp 500,000 per gram.
The higher the grade is, the more reddish-yellow its appearance. Conversely, lower-grade gold is dull yellow and sells for less.
The wildcat miners face arrest by law-enforcement officials and dangerous working conditions due to a lack of standard security equipment.
Abandon ship: Two vessels used by wildcat miners lie in disuse on the banks of the Laur River.
The miners also search for gold in muddy soil on land, using methods that frequently results in mishaps when pits suddenly collapse on workers.
“The damage resulting from this activity is evident. The government and civil communities should feel an urgency to increase awareness about managing natural resources in a sustainable way and to uphold the law,” Adam stressed.
— Photos by Severianus Endi
Govt eyes Oz investors for cattle breeding scheme
Click to Enlarge !
Indonesia expects to lure Australian investors to invest in developing an integrated cattle breeding system in the country’s oil palm plantations to boost both the cattle herdand palm oil production.
Agriculture Minister Suswono said he would try attracting investors to breed cattle in farms built in Indonesia’s oil palm plantations, during a business forum to be held this week in Australia.
“We have 9 million hectares of oil palm plantations nationwide. Imagine how much we could increase the national cattle herd to meet the mounting needs of beef producers if we place two cows in every hectare of at least 4 million hectares of existing oil palm plantations,” he said over the weekend.
Suswono said the government needed at least 8 million additional live cattle to achieve the goal of having nearly half of existing oil palm plantations integrated with cattlebreeding, supported by investors from cattle-exporting countries, like Australia.
The ministry has been promoting an integrated cattle breeding system in oil palm plantations since last year in its attempt to attain beef self-sufficiency by 2014, although it is now scrutinizing whether or not to continue the self-sufficiency program, following recent shortages of beef supplies and soaring prices after import limitations.
Waste from both oil palm trees and cattle is expected to enhance each other’s productivity.
Oil palm midribs, according to the ministry’s research and development directorate general, can be used to feed cows after being processed in a chopper machine.
Oil palm fronds, usually treated as waste, are said to contain nutrition good for cattle.
Cattle waste, on the other hand, can be used to fertilize oil palm plants.
The combined cycle of usage of cattle and oil palm waste is also expected to reduce wastes from oil palm cultivation and cattle breeding.
Such an integrated cattle-breeding system has been implemented by several firms, like state-owned enterprises PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI) and PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) VI.
RNI, which has a herd of 10,000 cattle in its palm oil and sugarcane plantations, is aiming to raise a total of 20,000 cattle by 2014, with 15,000 of them bred in its oil palm plantations.
PTPN VI has bred 40 cattle in its oil palm plantations in Batanghari, Jambi, since last year.
Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer with an annual output of over 26 million tons, and 9 million hectares of plantation.
The archipelago, on the other hand, relies heavily on imports to meet the domestic need of 500,000 tons of beef per annum.
The government aimns to attain beef self-sufficiency in 2014.
It had earlier limited imports to only 80,000 tons of beef — which comprised of 267,000 live cattle and 32,000 tons of beef — before eventually importing 24,500 live cattle and appointing the State Logistic Agency (Bulog) to bring in an additional 3,000 tons of frozen meat due to hiking prices and supply shortages.
Although the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) has yet to officially announce this year’s cattle survey, media reports say the agency’s interim survey result showed that the country had only around 12 million live cattle, a significant decrease compared to 14.8 million in 2011.
—JP/Anggi M. Lubis
Recognition of indigenous
On May 16, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling favoring the country’s indigenous peoples. It stated that customary forests were not state owned as earlier recognized, but belonged to local indigenous people. It was a historic ruling, which raises questions as to the fate of businesses that have already been issued permits in such state forests, and the consequent impact on the many land conflicts across the country. The Jakarta Post’s Prodita Sabarini looks at how the ruling will affect the people living in these areas.
The village of Muara Tae in Jempang, West Kutai, an East Kalimantan regency heavily dependent on mining and palm oil, is home to an indigenous tribe, the Dayak Benuaq.
For years, their customary land has been converted into open pit coal mines and palm oil plantations. Muara Tae’s young leader, 28-year-old Masrani, wants sued West Kutai Regent Ismael Thomas last August for drawing up a new village border to protect the last plots of their customary forests, .
The border led to them losing their forest to the next village, whose residents had agreed to let their land go for plantations. The court ruled in favor of the regent and Masrani appealed.
In April this year, Masrani lost his job as village leader. Under a decree, Thomas ended Masrani’s tenure.
For Indonesia, home to more than 1,000 ethnic groups, the world’s largest thermal coal exporter and one of the top palm oil producers, conflicts such as this one in Muara Tae — where various interests collide — have been a common feature of business involving large tracts of land. Many concessions for mining and plantations are allocated on customary land belonging to indigenous peoples.
Meanwhile, government conservation programs relating to protected forests also involve areas considered customary forests by indigenous peoples, making these forests inaccessible to those whose livelihoods have depended on them for generations.
The Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) documented 48 conflicts between businesses, government and indigenous communities in 2011, affecting 947 families in an area of 690,558 hectares.
Erasmus Cahyadi from the organization’s legal and advocacy division said that almost all the conflicts were due to the government’s failure to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples over their customary land, especially customary forests.
AMAN’s documentation between October 2012 and March 2013 shows that some 224 indigenous people were criminalized for taking wood from forests turned into conservation or business areas.
The recent landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court on the 1999 Forestry Law signaled the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples over their customary forests. According to the May 16 ruling, customary forests are not state forests, but “forests located in the areas of custom-based communities”.
But AMAN and other civil society groups understand that resolving conflicts and fighting for restitution remains a long battle amid a complicated land policy.
Prior to the ruling, as customary forests were treated as state forests, the Forestry Ministry granted concessions to businesses on customary land. “Many indigenous peoples were shocked by the enactment of the Forestry Law,”
Following the Constitutional Court ruling, some 20 regional coordinators from AMAN were in Jakarta to discuss follow-up strategies with civil society organizations including the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the Indonesian Community Mapping Network (JKPP), as well as organizations specializing in land reform. Together, they organized a workshop to consolidate their strategies to push the government to implement the court’s ruling.
Margaretha Seting Beraan, AMAN’s East Kalimantan coordinator, was at the May 29 workshop. A high concentration of indigenous people and widespread mining and plantation activities makes her area prone to conflicts. “Many people called me, saying ‘the court has ruled in our favor, so now we can have our land back?’ but I had to say, ‘hang on, let’s not get ahead of ourselves’,” Margaretha said.
The court’s ruling on customary forests is unlikely to have much effect on Muara Tae, for example. Margaretha said Muara Tae’s disputed forest was not part of the approximately 130 million hectares of the country’s designated forests, which are under the authority of the Forestry Ministry based on the court-reviewed Forestry Law. Muara Tae’s forest is instead under the authority of the West Kutai regent and is labeled, Other Usage Area (APL).
Further, despite a challenge by AMAN, the Constitutional Court ruling retained intact Article 67 of the law, stating that the recognition of customary forests was to be carried out by regional governments through bylaws. This means that for the indigenous people of Muara Tae to be recognized, the regency administration must issue a bylaw.
Contacted by phone in his village, Masrani said that whatever the status given to their customary forest “for us a forest is a condition. It’s not a territory that’s appointed by the government. The forest is protected by the people. It doesn’t come from the government”.
Ade Cholik Mutaqin, advocacy and campaigns officer with the JKPP, said the problem with customary land recognition was that several authorities governed the status of their land, but there was very little coordination between them.
The Forestry Ministry is regulated by the Forestry Law to oversee customary land within forest boundaries, while the land outside those forest boundaries is within the control of the National Land Agency (BPN) as regulated by the Agrarian Law. Further, these two institutions only recognize customary land that has been recognized through
Despite the provision of customary forest recognition by regional governments in the Forestry Law, no administration has issued a bylaw on customary forests.
However, West Sumatra has released a bylaw on the indigenous Nagari people. Other regional administrations that have released bylaws on indigenous communities are Central Kalimantan province, Lebak in Banten and North Luwu in South Sulawesi.
AMAN secretary-general Abdon Nababan has called for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to establish a mechanism for indigenous peoples to register their communities and to map out their customary areas.
However, Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said that the government had yet to release official documentation on customary forests. The JKPP has mapped 3.9 million hectares of customary land, of which 3.1 million hectares is within forest areas.
According to Abdon, there is an estimated 40 million hectares of customary forests across the country.
Hadi said it was the ministry’s task to draft a government regulation to force local administrations to acknowledge customary forests in bylaws.
Nirarta Samadi, the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) deputy who chairs a task force on forest monitoring, said the Constitutional Court ruling provided a new opportunity for regional administrations to recognize indigeneous peoples.
“Now we have an opportunity for a new process,” he said, referring to the court ruling. “It now feels right to use the avenue of bylaws; a political decision is indeed needed to create a positive atmosphere,” he said.
Kalimantan elephant population continues to dwindle, says official Opslaan
“If the protected forests continue to be cleared away and change their function, we fear the elephants will become extinct. Therefore, we hope two district heads, whose jurisdiction cover the protected forests, will always guard them,” the head of the East Kalimantan provincial environmental board, H Riza Indra Riadi, said here Saturday.
The Nunukan and Malinau district heads played a decisive role in conserving the protected forests, particularly those belonging to the Heart of Borneo, he said.
The forests, which are home to the endangered elephants, were under threat from coal mining and oil palm plantations, he added. Click to Enlarge !
Riadi noted that much forested land in a number of areas in East Kalimantan has been cleared to make way for coal mining and oil palm plantations.
The population of Kalimantan elephants was estimated at 20 to 80 in 22 villages in Sebuku subdistrict, Nunukan district, he said.
Riadi added that five of the 22 villages were frequently visited by Soliter elephants. The villages are Sekikilan, Semunad, Rembalang, Salang, and Kalun Sayan.
He has asked the governments of the two districts to stop issuing operating permits to plantation and mining companies in the protected forests, including those in Malinau, Nunukan, Kutai Timur, West Kutai and Berau.(*)
Editor: Aditia Maruli
East Kalimantan Environmentalists to Report Illegal Miners to Police
Tunggadewa Mattangkilang | August 07, 2012
Sukisman, the head of the Samarinda mining office, identified the two companies as CV Prima Coal Mining and Graha Benua Etam, with the first having its license revoked and the second suspended.
He said his office would report the two companies to police for further actions because the two no longer had the necessary permits to operate.
“We will certainly report them because these companies have had their license revoked, but they are still engaged in mining activities. This is illegal,” Suksiman said.
The two companies, he said, had been operating on a 155-hectare of mining land in Samarinda since 2008. But because an investigation by the Samarinda regional environmental agency found them to be violating mining procedures and damaging the environment, their permits were revoked after three warnings.
Sukisman said both miners not only damaged the environment but also created danger for the people living in the surrounding area by leaving holes from their mining activities opened.
“We will prepare the report on their activities. Then we will report these to the authorities so that such a case is not repeated,” he said.
The Samarinda mining office, he said, had even seen piles of coal totaling some tens of thousand tons awaiting loading onto a ship. He said his office would not issue any certificate of origin for the coal, which is required for any sale.
“If they do not have a certificate of origin, they will be deemed illegal and police can arrest and detain them. This is a crime,” Sukisman said.
The Samarinda administration has issued some 50 permits for mining activities in area, and activists have blamed the extensive mining operations there for the increasing amounts of flooding.
10 regents in Kalimantan prosecuted for illegal logging
Indonesia – Ten regents in Kalimantan are currently being prosecuted for alleged involvement in illegal logging and the embezzlement of government reforestation funds, Minister of Forestry Malam Sambat Ka’ban said on Saturday.
He declined to disclose the names of the regency chief executives, but the prosecutions are seen as the first legal moves to be taken against senior local officials in the current administration’s campaign against illegal logging.
Previous crackdowns have mainly netted low-paid workers hired to fell trees, the crew members of vessels transporting the logs, or junior police and military personnel. Even mid-ranking police and military personnel arrested in such crackdowns are rarely prosecuted.
“The regents all come from regencies in Kalimantan. Legal proceedings against them are still ongoing,” Ka’ban said as quoted by Antara on the sidelines of a ceremony held by his Crescent and Star Party (PBB) here.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in March of this year launched an aggressive campaign — called the Sustainable Forestry Operation — against illegal logging in a bid to protect the country’s rapidly declining natural forest cover and improve Indonesia’s image in the international arena.
Environmental groups say that so far they are encouraged by the campaign as it appears to be producing results, although they say that the authorities still need to go after the masterminds.
Ka’ban said that eradicating illegal logging was difficult as it not only involved international criminal organizations but also many corrupt officials in important posts in various state institutions.
He said that at least 16 institutions, including the police, military, customs and excise office, local administrations, prosecution service, local legislative councils, the House of Representatives and the Ministry of Forestry itself, as being involved in illegal logging.
“Many officials are involved in the crime, and I admit that the Ministry of Forestry cannot overcome the complexity of the illegal logging problem alone,” he said.
He added that because of this complexity, the fight against illegal logging would be a “long-term war” and require “guerrilla tactics.” He did not elaborate.
Elsewhere, Ka’ban said 59.3 hectares of the country’s total 120 million hectares of natural forest had disappeared due to logging over the past 30 years.
He added that illegal logging also took place in protected forests and national conservation areas.
He said that at the current deforestation rate of 2.8 hectares per year, Indonesia’s natural forests would have completely disappeared by 2015.
Ka’ban also said that the high deforestation rate was also defrauding the public purse of some Rp 41 trillion (about US$4 billion) each year.
He added that the fight against illegal logging would be one of the Susilo government’s 36 top priorities over the next four years.
E. Kalimantan Residents Oppose New Palm Oil Plantation
Tunggadewa Mattangkilang | June 26, 2012
West Kutai, East Kalimantan. Thousands of residents in two West Kutai villages are protesting efforts by a palm oil firm to clear land for a plantation, arguing they will be left with no land of their own to farm.
Masyarani, a Muara Tae tribal elder representing the villages of Murate and Lempunah, said on Sunday that all 600 families in the villages were opposed to the incursion by palm oil company Borneo Surya Mining Jaya.
“We were never involved in the discussions between the district administration and the company about the land,” he said.
“So why all of a sudden are they clearing us off our own land? We will stand firm against them.”
Masyarani said BSMJ was the latest palm oil firm to come into the area.
Three other companies have already cleared land in the area for their own plantations, each time resulting in the villagers losing more of their land and with no benefits to show for it.
He said that the commercial farming activities had also taken an environmental toll, with the local groundwater supply becoming contaminated.
“Three companies have already come in here, yet we remain poor and our land has been lost,” Masyarani said.
“All we have to show for it is increased pollution and plenty of promises, but nothing concrete.”
BSMJ was awarded a concession in January 2010 to clear 476 hectares of land in the area for a plantation. Another palm oil company, Munte Waniq Jaya Perkasa, was awarded a 683-hectare concession at the same time.
The Muara Tae people are also protesting MWJP’s activities in the area on the grounds that they were never consulted by the authorities before the concessions were awarded. They argue that because the forest in question is ancestral land, the district administration should have sought their permission before awarding a plantation permit for the area.
The district authorities, however, point out that the area has not been formally designated an ancestral forest.
The MWJP case came under international scrutiny earlier this year when it was revealed that the Norwegian government had made a $6.7 million investment in the firm’s Malaysian holding company.
The UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency pointed out that the investment was “ethically compromising” because the Norwegian government had also pledged Rp 1 billion ($106,000) for Indonesia as part of a program under which Indonesia would freeze issuing any new forestry permits for primary and peat forests for two years.
Isal Wardana, executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), agreed that the district authorities should have done more to encourage companies to optimize their existing land rather than grant them new tracts of forest to clear.
“There should be no more new permits or expansion of plantations,” he said. There are 203 palm oil concessions in East Kalimantan, covering 35,200 square kilometers, 17 percent of the province.
Governor may have breached moratorium
The Jakarta Post | National | Tue, 06/05/2012 9:24 AM
JAKARTA: An environmental group has accused Central Kalimantan Governor Agustin Teras Narang of issuing a recommendation for a palm oil company to open a plantation in a primary forest in Pulang Pisau regency, a move that could be in violation of a forest-clearing moratorium agreed upon in a deal signed by the Indonesian and Norwegian governments.
A report from the Central Kalimantan office of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) claims that the governor signed on April 23 a recommendation letter to accompany the company’s application to the Forestry Ministry for a logging licence on 6,707 hectares of primary forest.
Such licenses are commonly issued for activities in secondary forests that are designated for production.
“The area is included in the moratorium map so the activity should be deemed illegal,” said Arie Rompas, the director of Walhi Central Kalimantan.
The government signed a bilateral deal with Norway two years ago to halt the issuance of new operational permits for land clearance in primary forests and peatland and to launch a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD+) system in an effort to curb emissions. If successful, the government could receive up to US$1 billion from Norway as a forest management fund.
Central Kalimantan was chosen as the site for a pilot project to implement the REDD+ system.
One year after the moratorium started, deforestation is still occurring and new licenses are still being issued. The government has revised its initial moratorium map (PIPIB) twice, reducing the protected areas from 70 million hectares last year to 65.2 million hectares last month.
Arie said the Pulang Pisau government had also allegedly issued new operational permits for concessions in protected forests to two oil palm companies.
“These cases show the disregard of the local administrations for the bilateral deal,” he said.
The head of the working group on legal review and law enforcement of the presidential REDD+ task force, Mas Achmad Santosa, said the task force was conducting a preliminary study on the Pulang Pisau case.
“We are closely watching the Pulang Pisau case and will launch an investigation if we find enough evidence,” he said.