Minister Luhut accused of owning 12 abandoned mine pits at new capital city site

CNN Indonesia – February 7, 2022
Abandoned mine pit in area selected to become new capital city in East Kalimantan – Undated (Jatam)

Jakarta – The East Kalimantan Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) has revealed that two subsidiary companies belonging to the PT Toba Group owned by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan have left behind 12 abandoned mine pits in the area designated for the new capital city (IKN) in East Kalimantan.

Jatam coordinator Pradarma Rupang says that the two subsidiary companies are PT Kutai Energi (PT KE) and PT Trisena Mineral Utama.

"[The mine pits from Luhut's companies in the IKN] are a fact. We can present the data. Moreover it's under the company's umbrella, in Luhut's mining concessions there are 12 [abandoned] mine pits", Rupang told CNN Indonesia on Friday February 4.

Based on Jatam's data, a breakdown of the 12 mine pits shows that three were produced by PT Trisena Mineral Utama covering 3,414 hectares and the other nine by PT KE covering 4,461 hectares, which is also surrounded by palm oil plantations owned by Pandjaitan.

"The palm oil plantations which surround it [PT KE] are also Luhut's palm oil plantations. The name of his company is PT Perkebunan Kaltim Utama I", said Rupang.

Rupang said that the 12 mine pits represent Jatam's findings in the field and they have evidence in the form of photographs of the former mining sites.

"He can't deny this. It has been cross checked directly in the field", he said.

Furthermore, Jatam has also found 38 more former mine sites in the vicinity of the IKN area which were also made by companies owned by Pandjaitan.

"Outside of the IKN's immediate area there are even more. There are 50 mine pits [a total of 12 inside the IKN] and three company concession", he said.

Pandjaitan's spokesperson Jodi Mahardi has refuted Jatam's findings saying that Pandjaitan is only a shareholder in PT TBS Energi Utama and does not have any representation on the board of directors.

"In relation to TBS, Pak [Mr] Luhut only owns 10 percent of shares in TBS Energi Utama and does not have any representation on the board of commissioners or directors. So, please direct your questions to the TBS management", Mahardi told CNN Indonesia via an SMS message on Monday February 7.

Mahardi did however admit that there are several mine pits made by PT Kutai Energi, a subsidiary of TBS Energi Utama, but Kutai Energi has obeyed the regulations and also has a certificate from the Environment and Forestry Ministry (KLHK) to conduct these activities.

He said that Kutai Energi has conducted reclamation on the equivalent of 64 percent of the open mine areas. According to Mahardi, this figure exceeds the minimal requirements stipulated by East Kalimantan Gubernatorial Regulation Number 38/2015.

According to Mahardi, Kutai Energi has also recorded all of the active and inactive (void) mine pits and submits regular Environmental Impact Analysis (AMDAL) reports to the regional government.

Mahardi also questioned Jatam's claim of Panjaitan's involvement in the mine pits in the IKN saying that Jatam does not understand the issue of mine pits.

"They're active mines, right. How can Jatam talk like that when they don't understand?", Mahardi asked.

"The Kutai Energi mines are mines which are still operating so what is visible is an active pit which is currently being mined. The mining is in accordance with the mining plan", he said.

Earlier, senior economist Faisal Basri strongly criticised the capital city move saying that the new capital in North Penajam Paser regency will be like "heaven" surrounded by "hell".

Basri said that he made this comparison because the location of the new capital city is surrounded by oil, gas and coal mines as well as oil refineries. The new city will be also surrounded by palm oil plantations. Several of the mine pits were produced by Pandjaitan.

Mahardi however later asked Basri to reveal the data behind the accusations. Pandjaitan has also asked Basri to provide an explanation to the public saying that the data conveyed by Basri is not credible.

"To this day we are still waiting on confirmation from Pak Faisal Basri on his information on Pak Luhut's former mining sites, Pak Luhut's mining pits. We ask that if he has the data please present it immediately", said Mahardi on Tuesday January 25.

"This is so that if the information is true then Pak Luhut can immediately order his companies to immediately fulfill their responsibilities, but we hope that the statements are wrong and the data isn't accurate or the data isn't credible, please explain it to the public", he said. (yla/DAL)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Jatam Ungkap Bukti Lubang Tambang Luhut di Kaltim: 12 di Kawasan IKN".]