Proposed National Park Threatened by Australian Mine
JATAM (Mining Advocacy Network) Press Release
2 March 2004
PT Sorikmas Mining Owned by Aberfoyle Australia Threatens to Mine Batang Gadis Protected Forest
Jakarta – Mining companies’ ambitions to exploit mineral deposits in Indonesian protected forest and conservation areas are relentless. This time the protected forest area under threat of mineral exploitation by a foreign investor is Batang Gadis protected forest located in Mandailing Natal Regency, North Sumatera Province. The forest area covers 108,000 hectares and was proposed by the local government to become a national park. But today the gold mining interests of PT Sorikmas Mining (owned by Aberfoyle Australia) is threatening this important ecoystem.
“For the sake of securing the livelihoods of the people of Mandailing Natal and the sustainability of natural resources and the ecosystem, POKJATAMSU firmly demands that the Head of the Indonesian Parliament (DPR RI), all fractions in the DPR RI, the Heads of Commission III and VIII of the DPR RI, and the local parliament of Mandailing Natal make a heartfelt decision and provide political support to the people and local government of Mandailing Natal now facing the threat of PT Sorikmas Mining exploiting their protected forests,” stated Natanael Ginting of JATAM North Sumatera.
Around 60% of the 201,700 hectare concession area granted to PT. Sorikmas Mining is located in protected forests. Meanwhile, 66,200 hectares of that area overlaps with areas being proposed for national park status. Based on preliminary studies conducted by Conservation International Indonesia, the Indonesian Science Institute (LIPI), and the Planning Division of the Forestry Department (Baplan Dephut), 248 plant species’ are found in this protected forest specifically in Sopotinjak, Aek Nangali and surrounding highlands thus making it one of the world’s most biologically diverse areas. This biodiversity rate is higher than that found in the Tesso-Nelo area in the nearby Riau Province, which is also recognized for enormous biodiversity and home to 218 species. The Batang Gadis protected forest area is home to the 2-metre long Sumatran tiger, rare birds, bears, the Javan deer, wild goats and many more species.
JATAM National Coordinator Siti Maimunah stated that both the Indonesian government and Parliament should address the concerns and aspirations of the local government and people of Mandailing Natal who refuse the conversion of Batang Gadis protected forest into a mining area for PT. Sorikmas Mining. Especially when, up until now, the provision of the contract of work and licensing to PT. Sorikmas Mining has not been done transparently and has not followed the proper procedures.
“The Mandailing Natal community must be given the freedom to determine their own future and not be forced fed unjust policies made by the central government. The creation of the Batang Gadis National Park is of the most importance for the survival of the Mandailing Natal community. Large-scale mining operations by foreign investors with their development promises instead leave abundant social and environmental problems as seen too often in other mining operations in the country,” added Siti Maimunah.
JATAM fully supports the efforts taken by the Mandailing Natal community and the local government to defend the Batang Gadis protected forest from mineral exploitation. JATAM also urges PT. Sorikmas Mining to respect the community’s decision and to stop efforts to convert the protected area into a mining area.
Siti Maimunah, JATAM National Coordinator