Areas with extensive mining concessions hardest hit by flooding: Report

KBR – January 10, 2020
Flooding in North Konawe, South-East Sulawesi – June 18, 2019 (Antara)

Adi Ahdiat, Jakarta – According to a report by the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), regions which have a large number of mining concessions were hit by some of the worst flooding in 2019.

Jatam believes that environmental damage as a result of mining activities is triggering natural disasters which in the end threaten the safety of local people.

This was conveyed by Jatim in its 2019 End of Year Report and Projections for 2020 which was released on Monday January 6.

“Bengkulu [Palembang province], an area which has been continuously mined for its coal and gold, suffered [some of the worst] flash floods in the province. In the upstream Bengkulu watershed area there are eight coal mining company concessions”, wrote Jatim in its report.

Aside from Bengkulu, Jatim noted that some of the worst flooding in 2019 occurred in North Konawe, South-East Sulawesi, along with several parts of East Kalimantan.

“In North Konawe Utara there are 71 IUP (mining business permits), where 68 of these are nickel mines. East Kalimantan meanwhile, which can be said to be the capital city of coal mining, has [mining] concessions covering a land area of 1,006,139.63 hectares”, wrote Jatam.

“The continued sell off of mining permits in various parts of Indonesia undermines the carrying capacity and the absorption capacity in these regions”, said Jatam.

Social disaster

As well as damaging the environment, the mining industry also triggers many social conflicts, criminalisation and attacks on local people.

“Between 2014 and 2019 there were 71 conflicts between communities opposing mining and the government and mining companies”, the groups said.

“Out of the total number of conflicts recorded, there were three areas with the highest number, namely East Kalimantan province (14 cases), East Java province (8 cases), Central Sulawesi province (9 cases) as well as coastal areas and small islands such as the Wawonii Islands”, wrote Jatam.

According to Jatam, the types of conflicts were varied ranging from shootings by state security forces, physical clashes to the criminalisation of local people opposing mines.

“A variety of structural violence as well as physical violence was committed. Almost all of them involved the hands of the state”, said Jatam.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “JATAM: Banjir Parah Banyak Terjadi di Wilayah Pertambangan”.]