Indonesia Print
Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:30


Coordinating NGO for EEB/ZMWG funded projects: Balifokus

Contact details: Yuyun Ismawati

2012 Project title:   Sustainable ASGM Practices - Workshop on Sustainable ASGM Practices, Mataram • Indonesia • 9-11 February 2012

Summary of the project/report

ASGM practices found in all regions in Indonesia with a general similar pattern. A discovery of gold deposit attracts gold prospectors, miners and non-miners from various areas, using cheap but destructive gold-extraction technology with mercury and cyanide followed by amalgamation and open burning. In parallel, after the prevalence of small-scale mining, the people who used to reject the presence of large-scale mining operations became more accepting as they gain direct benefit from the activities regardless the negative long term impact to their health, local socio-economic and the environment. Mining activities always produce irreversible negative environmental impact. Small-scale mining appear profitable to the people, but comes at a higher cost than the selling price of gold, in the form of health, environmental and social hazard. When the practice of illegal ASGM have grown to involve a large number of people, it is more difficult for law enforcement to curb the practice. Many local government categorised ASGM as illegal activities but could not stop the practices for various reasons. The best option for the long term ‘sustainable’ ASGM practices is to improve the current mining activities, develop proper community mining management and technical plan and capacity building, and prepare the shift of people’s livelihood from mining to other or alternative livelihoods such as from agriculture, fisheries and forestry. However, with the limitations and reality on the ground, closing-down operations and outreach programs are often only successful in the short term. From previous experience, the problem remained, even escalated in the last ten years.

Therefore, concerted control efforts are needed, in form of limiting and eventually eliminating the supply and distribution of mercury, training people to switch to non-mercury techniques and provide a special area for regulated community mining. The momentum of sharply increasing price of mercury should be seized to reduce the reliance of small-scale miners on mercury. The capacity of health care practitioners to handle mercury poisoning cases and educate people on matters of mercury hazard need to be increased, improved and conducted in scale and systematic way. Research on remediation of contaminated land should be continued with more options to clean up the contaminated soil and water as well as the final process and disposal plant.

Mercury-free ASGM techniques are already available and relatively cheap, but the implementation need to be adapted and adjusted to the characteristics of the local ores and the miners/community’s current practices. One of the solutions can be reached by conducting miners-to-miners training coupled with the formalization process. The effort must be guided by a national policy towards elimination of mercury in ASGM, localise the ASGM activities within the designated Community Mining Areas, midterm plan of transitional livelihood, clean up and remediation plan and long term rehabilitation strategy. Synergy is needed, not just by district/local governments and the Ministry of Environment, but also other departments such as the Mining and Energy, Trade, Health and Social Welfare. Caution must be exercised when choosing to formalize and legalize small-scale mining so as not to clash with existing laws, especially on forestry and environment.

Status:  completed, Final report