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TAMBANG, November 20, 2012 | 22.03
Mega Project Affected By Pipe

Oleh: Subkhan AS

Gold mining Martabe resumes operation. The installation of pipe would be completed in two weeks. The company could not assure the continuation of operation if insurgencies come again.
The production wheel of gold mining Martabe has rolled again indeed, since October 29 but the company won’t be reluctant to come out of Martabe if local people reject again the development of mining waste-water pipe to River.
“We could resume activity after reaching agreement with communities opposing the plan for the development of mining waste-water pipe so far,” Communications Manager of G-Resources Katarina Siburian Hardono told TAMBANG Magazine on Thursday, late October.

The agreement between the subsidiary of PT Agincourt Resources and local communities was achieved through mediation by the North Sumatra provincial government and South Tapanuli Regency Government.
Both parties agreed several points, including guarantee for the absence of environmental pollution attributable to mining waste water, the inclusion of three villages in Muara Batangtoru and one village in Batangtoru into mining surrounding areas and the increase in corporate social responsibility funds.

The operational activity of mega project gold mining Martabe, controlled by G-Resources, was suspended over one month, starting from mid September and the company sustained a loss of Rp 14 billion and some 900 employees were sent home.
The suspension was triggered by the plan of the company to install pipe distributing mining waste-water to River Batangtoru. The company and local government have convinced local communities that the disposed water has been safe, free from hazardous materials. The pipe must have been installed late September but local people raised objection to the plan.
Now, said Katarina, the company would start again to build 2.7 km-length pipe as far River Batangtoru. Hopefully, the pipe would have been installed completely mid November as gold mining Martabe is expected to start producing early 2013, up to 20 years to come.
The gold mining project located in western Sumatra, namely Batangtoru, South Tapanuli, costs around US$900 million or equivalent to Rp 8.5 trillion.
Nonetheless, the company could not do much if people protest again. “If occurring, we are likely to dismiss workers and the mining is closed permanently,” said Katarina.

Katarina conceded that her side has not socialized properly. Now, local communities understand after meeting with corporate executives.
Local people have so far viewed that the disposed water has not been filtered but after they are informed that the water to be distributed to River Batangtoru has been processed, local communities could understand. “It’s impossible for the company to violate environmental regulation,” said Katarina.
Related to the complained water pipe, Chief Executive Officer of G-Resources Peter Albert said that his side has secured license such as contained in AMDAL approved by South Tapanuli Regent in March 2008. The license was issued following intensive feasibility study.
Peter assured that the disposed water meets the quality standard stipulated in Decree of the Minister of Environmental Affairs No. 202, while rebuking accusation that the water to be distributed to River Batangtoru contains toxic.
“There is wrong information circulating in society with regards to toxic water and other issues related to the flow of water to river, which would pollute environment. It’s not true at all. The Indonesian government would never approve the disposal of toxic water,” said Peter.
The continuation of the project is indeed dependent heavily on the installation of waste water. Without the pipe, the production could not run. Peter also said that the company has limited funds thus being unable to bear continuously manpower, operational and other program costs unless the mining operates.
Amid the protest, last month, there was rumor saying the protest was related to a request for increasing the share of the local government to ten percent from five percent previously.
Former Technical and Environmental Affairs Director of the Directorate General of Minerals, Coal and Geothermal Mangantar S Marpaung supposed that parties were intentionally playing and they may back up few people opposing the development of the processed waste channel.
“I don’t believe that a small number of people could discontinue operational activity of gold mining with the investment value US$900 million,” said Marpaung. After retiring, Marpaung indeed remains active in mining industry and many companies hire him as advisor due to his capability of lobbying many parties.
If the issue is related to additional share, said Marpaung, type of share already granted by PT Agincourt Resources should be observed first because the company has granted golden share in free of charge as much as five percent to provincial and regency governments. The golden share could not be diluted even though capital increases.
The share granted by PT Agincourt Resources to the local government is the first executed by gold mining company in Indonesia. “North Sumatra Provincial and South Tapanuli Regency Governments are not necessary to spend money to participate in the development of the project but they continue to obtain net profit,'' said Marpaung.
He suggested gold mining company Martabe to socialize benefits which would be obtained by communities through the share received by the provincial and regency governments.
Acting Governor of North Sumatra Gatot Pujo Nugroho rebuked accusation saying the protest is related to request for additional share and asserted that the additional share still becomes discourse in the provincial and local governments.
“It’s untrue because factually there is no request or negotiation about additional share ownership. However, as region where the gold mining operates, regency and provincial parties want additional share. It would be discussed further,” said Gatot, expecting the share to increase by five percent at the minimum.

Gold mining Martabe is situated in western Sumatra, Batang Toru, North Sumatra with the size 1,639 km2. The license is in accordance with the scheme of the sixth generation contract of work, signed in April 1997.
In internet site managed by Sidney mineral discussion group, there is an article explaining that the gold mining was found late 1997 and the survey team divided the area into 100 x 500 clusters and took sample in every corner of the cluster.
In order to ascertain the existence of gold deposit, the team applied Bulk Leach Extractable Gold (BLEG) method, a gold deposit detecting method developed in 1980. Samples of rocks packed in a large sack, 2-5 kg, are submerged in cold sodium cyanide for several days and afterward, gold and silver powder would be separated from other rocks.
The geology team surveyed locations in Martabe, namely Purnama, Pelangi, Baskara, Kejora and Gerhana but the most potential is Purnama. Since 1998, the area has been stipulated as the target of exploration. The team drilled, totaling 25,686 meter, every 50 meter onward and left and right side. Some 1.74 grams of gold and 21.5 grams of silver are found from every ton of sample. It’s quite moderate.
The area is predicted to deposit around 8.05 million ounces of gold, equivalent to 248 tons of gold and 77 million ounces of silver. The annual production capacity is 250,000 oz of gold and 2-3 million oz of silver.

Poor supervision and facilitation from the central government is considered as an issue frequently encountering investors in mining sector. Mangantar S Marpaung said that the issue frequently occurred because of the law so that central and regional government trade responsibility upon facing the issue.
Ministry of ESDM admitted that they have asked local police to secure mining site and area where distribution pipe of mining waste water to Sungai Batangtoru would be built.
Director General of Minerals and Coal Thamrin Sihite has known that certain people disagree upon the plan to channel mining waste water into River Batangtoru.
Thamrin said that his side has sent a team to Martabe in order to call the company and local government to convince local communities that the environment won’t be polluted.
Thamrin also viewed that local government and communities have different perceptions thus triggering resistance from a number of people. Consequently, once the pipe is installed, the people burnt it.
“Apparently, more intensive socialization and extra security are needed so that they are safe to operate. The action is being executed,” said Thamrin.
Acting Governor of North Sumatra Gatot Pujo Nugroho admitted that his side has coordinated with the Ministry of ESDM and recommended two points. Firstly, the Ministry of ESDM is asked to talk to the company so that the employees are not sent home. Secondly, the ministry is also asked to discuss Amdal, as a requirement for the issuance of license to construct.
The two points result from discussion between him and Head of North Sumatra Environmental Board Hidayati, Head of Mining Service Untung Kaban and Chairman of the North Sumatra Provincial Advance Team Eddy Sofyan. The last team was established because of protest against the development of tailing pipe.
“We submit the recommendations to ESDM, given that the whole corporate license is issued by the central government,” he said. And officials in region, once again, throw hot ball to Jakarta.
The company has committed to socializing local communities continuously to support the mining gold operational, besides inviting the central and regional government to participate.

Tailing Still Leaves Opportunity for Life

Tailing or waste sand resulting from mining activities is always deemed negative and potential to destroy environment because it contains mining waste sand and the quantity is usually very much. Plants are impossible to grow in areas encompassed by tailing because the land is infertile.
Some 16 researchers of State-run Papua University (UNIPA) Manokwari have been successful to prove that life still exists in tailing areas. They executed study in the tailing disposal site of PT Freeport Indonesia in Timika, Papua.
Result of the study compiled in a book with the title ''Proceeding Seminar on Results of Joint Study between PT Freeport Indonesia and Papua University '', was issued by the university and the book was launched in Jakarta on the second Tuesday of last October.
Sartji Taberima, lecturer of agronomy in Agriculture and Agricultural Technology Faculty, found a change in soil located in tailing site or sedimentation area of tailing but the tailing area lacks microorganism and organic substances so that organic substances need to be supplemented to restore the function of soil.
The study executed by Sartji also shows natural growth presenting 117 species of birds, 42 species of reptile, 93 species of butterfly and 10 species of mammal, which use tailing area as their habitat.
Sartji studied tailing site in mining area of PT Freeport in Timika, Papua."The thickness of the studied land ranges from 1.5-6 meter and the age is around 20 years," said Sartji.
In tailing sedimentation area not flowed anymore for 8 – 20 years, there is a process called pedogenesis, wherein tailing changes into soil in the initial phase. The condition helps the growth of vegetation appearing naturally so that the land could be developed to become natural forest or agriculture cultivation land.
Species of indigenous plants could also grow naturally in land containing tailing. Nurhaidah Iriany Sinaga, lecturer of the Forestry School, found three kinds of Freycinetia. "They are Freycinetia megaauriculata Sinaga&Utteridge,Freycinetia frutonumerata Sinaga, Keim&Purayatmika, dan Frecinetia ultrapedicellata Sinaga, Keim&Purayatmika," said Nurhaida.
The research finally opens expectation that tailing media could become the growing media of plants. Moreover, thanks to the growth of vegetation appearing naturally, tailing site could be developed again to become natural forest, agricultural cultivation land, and plantation, animal husbandry and fishery area.