Govt regrets gold mine’s closure

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan | Tue, 06/07/2011 11:28 P

The North Sumatra provincial administration has urged gold mining company PT Sorikmas Mining, which recently announced it had suspended mining activities following a violent attack by local residents, to resume operations.

North Sumatra Mining Office head Untungta Kaban said that of the three mining companies operating in North Sumatra, only PT Sorikmas Mining in Mandailing Natal regency faced such an issue.

Untungta promised that his office would help the company, which is partly owned by Australian investors, to resume operations after the attack.

According to Untungta, he coordinated with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s mineral exploitation director, Dede Suhendra, to help PT Sorikmas Mining immediately resume operations and locate viable gold reserves.

Untungta added that they would help by facilitating a meeting between the residents and the company to seek a solution of mutual benefit and provide technical assistance in gold exploration.

“We hope PT Sorikmas Mining can resume operating like other mining companies,” he said, adding that PT Sorikmas Mining has obtained a working contract permit from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.

Untungta said his office had not officially received a report on the company’s work stoppage, but confirmed that the matter was very regrettable. He said it was the first incident of its kind in North Sumatra in which a mining company stopped operating due to a conflict with residents.

“This is really regrettable, and its impact could be bad for the investment climate in the province,” Untungta told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

He added that the presence of the three mining companies, PT Sorikmas Mining, PT Agimcourt Resources and PT Dairi Prima Mineral, was legal because they had operational licenses in North Sumatra.

PT Agimcourt Resources is a gold mining company whose shares are dominated by a Hong Kong-based businessman and state-run mining firm, PT Aneka Tambang. Its operations are located in South Tapanuli, Central Tapanuli, North Tapanuli and Mandailing Natal regencies. The company will soon begin production in Batang Toru district, South Tapanuli.

PT Dairi Prima Mineral is a lead and zinc mining company operating in Dairi, Pakpak Bharat, North Sumatra and Subussalam in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. A majority of its shares are owned by PT Bumi Resources Tbk., which is owned by Aburizal Bakrie.

Untungta said that both PT Agimcourt Resources and PT Dairi Prima Mineral had also faced problems with residents, but overcame them quickly and did not suffer work stoppages. According to Untungta, conflicts between local residents and mining companies have not only taken place in North Sumatra but in other provinces as well.

North Sumatran legislature vice speaker Chaidir Ritonga urged every party to refrain — especially security personnel — from responding to the mining issue. He said every stakeholder should sit together to seek the best way out. Chaidir added that there must be reasons why the residents resorted to anarchy.

“The issue should be handled comprehensively. Besides security and legal approaches, don’t forget that there is the local wisdom of the Mandailing identity, which is gentle,” said Chaidir.


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