Environmental & political opposition to Gold Mining in Indonesia is being backed by religious groups...
LOCAL GOLD OPERATIONS in Muslim Indonesia have come in for flak from religious figures saying Gold Mining is not suited to the geology, topology and topography of Flores and Lembata, as well as neighboring Indonesian islands, reports Commodity Online from Detusoko, Indonesia.
In a statement issued by the Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Commission, it said the socio-cultural and economic situation of local people whose main livelihood is farming and fishing is severely affected by drilling and exploration work seeking Gold Bullion.
"To make mining a choice of strategic and urgent development for people on Flores and Lembata and the neighboring islands is counter-productive and destroys people's social, economic and cultural life," they said, maintaining that "mining benefits only companies instead of local people."
Mining, they said spoils the pristine land and sea, after which it is unsuitable for farming or fishing by local people. At present 30 mining companies operate on the islands.
Early this month a landslide triggered by heavy rain killed 10 gold miners in Indonesia's Southeast Sulawesi province. The accident raised the mining death toll in the area to 60 since early September.
Indonesia has some of the world's largest deposits of gold, tin, copper and nickel. Some world’s biggest names in mining are in business in this country.
The mining sector, though, is not conducive to foreign investment owing to legal tangles, high corruption in government circles, and huge concerns over the environment as well as legal disputes over land ownership.
This is why Indonesia's Gold Miner output grew by just 4% in 2007, capped by a weak response to the surging Gold Price from global players investing in the region.
In 2006 after P.T. Merukh Enterprise Cooper signed a working contract with the Lembata district government to explore for gold, the Church sided with local people who opposed the agreement involving 46,000 hectares that include five villages with more than 10,000 people.
UCANews, a leading Church news agency covering Asian countries quoted Andreas Duli Manuk, head of Lembata district saying that his government will not revoke the license it already gave. "The license the government gave is only for exploration. Gold-mining operations have not started yet," he clarified, adding that those opposing the project were misinformed.