By Stephen Nye – President Director, PT. Britmindo Jasa Utama (BJU)
Mining reclamation in Indonesia has been long overlooked despite the governments pressure on mining companies to ensure mine rehabilitation as a compulsory requirement on all mining operations no matter how big or small. The Government in one of its latest schemes to reduce environmental damage due to mining activities is demanding companies to place money into a bonded scheme prior to the commencement of mining which is supposed to ensure that “someone” will reclaim disturbed mining areas once mining activities have ceased. This though should not detract from the obligations of the mining companies in the first instance to ensure that mine rehabilitation form part of the overall mining master plan.
Notwithstanding the major long term miners operating in Indonesia, very few mine owners actually adhere to the prevailing regulations concerning reclamation resulting in blots on the landscape resembling a moonscape. These areas are generally where illegal or inexperienced miners have operated, or where errant mine owners have handed out SPK’s (mining permissions to equipment operators) coupled with lax local government controls resulting in environmental damage to vast areas around parts of East and South Kalimantan. Unfortunately, a great number of mine owners do not undertake proper planning and sequencing as they simply high grade coal by mining along the crop lines and side cast overburden mixed with top soils whilst chasing the quick buck, sterilizing potential coal reserves and causing considerable damage to the environment for the future inhabitants and traditional owners.
Land is left bare of fertile topsoil for plantations, acidic water runoff and ponding reducing the soil pH of adjoining areas, ground stabilities and potential of landslides due to poor profiling and lack of vegetation to bind soil together are just a few immediate issues that can easily be prevented if correct mining practices and adherence to mining laws were followed. Britmindo Jasa Utama under its mine management contracts ensures 100% compliance to mining legislations placing a high priority on mine rehabilitation and reclamation.
It goes without saying that proper planning will enhance productivity and this also means respecting the environment to protect the valuable assets that the land gives up to mining companies. Good corporate social responsibility involves working with the local people to provide confidence that they not only benefit from the mining activities but are also left with sustainable arable lands once mining ceases. It is common knowledge that the majority of issues associated with mining activities are non technical which generally involves disputes with the local communities. It could be argued that a significant number of these issues stem from a mistrust due to mining companies historically neglecting their legal obligations to rehabilitate mining areas and donate back to the communities. The fact remains that the cost to undertake proper planning and reclamation is minuscule compared to the cost of operational stoppages. BJU in all of its economic estimates for clients includes approximately $0.30 – $0.50/Mt for mine reclamation which is a small cost to pay for a valuable commodity such as coal, which if applied correctly goes a long way to improve community relations and sustainability for generations to come.
An example of some of the work and reporting that our site based team undertakes to ensure our clients commitment to the environment can be seen in extracts from our weekly and monthly reports:
The following link is the current reclamation regulation that applies to Indonesian mining companies (Bahasa Indonesia version)
BJU support proactive environmental initiatives on all our current and future mining operations and recommend to mining companies and alike to review their existing environmental planning to create a more “green” approach to mining activities and promote good social responsibilities with surrounding communities as this will only enhance the reputation of mining in Indonesia.