[Dairi, North Sumatra, April 29 2021] Residents continue to oppose plans to mine zinc ore by PT Dairi Prima Mineral (DPM), a subsidiary of Bumi Resources owned by the Bakrie family. On Thursday (29/4/21), residents again held a protest.

This protest—involving residents, most of them women—was originally supposed to take place at the Regent Office and the Dairi Regional House of Representatives in Sidikalang. However, police intercepted the participants before they entered Sidikalang, forcing residents to hold the protest in Parongil.

This peaceful protest demanded that the Dairi regent, Eddy Keleng Ate Berutu, immediately revoke Environmental Feasibility Decree No. 731 of November 2005, which has been the legal basis for mining operations. The decree was issued by Dairi’s previous regent. Residents also pressured the regent to immediately take action and oppose PT DPM’s mining operations, and to convey this position to the central government as well as the general public.

In addition, residents who are part of the Alliance of People’s Organizations and Joint Secretariat for the Advocacy Against Mining, pressured the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, to cease all deliberation processes on the addendum of the Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) and the type A Environmental Management Plan (RPL-RKL) that had previously been proposed by PT DPM.

In the addendum to the Environmental Impact Assessment that is currently being deliberated upon at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the corporation proposed three changes to the environmental permit, namely changes to the location permit of the explosives warehouse, location of a Tailing Storage Facility (TSF), and the addition of a mining mouth portal.

For Dairi residents, the zinc ore mine—located in a region that is prone to earthquakes and flash floods—jeopardizes the safety of hundreds of thousands of people living in Dairi, and can potentially evict productive agricultural land, sources of water, rivers, and forests, all of which are the primary economic sources of Dairi residents.

PT Dairi Prima Mineral is a joint venture between China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co. (NFC)—a mining conglomeration based in Beijing, China, with a 51 percent stake in the project—and the Indonesian coal mining giant, Bumi Resources, owned by the family of Aburizal Bakrie, with a 49 percent share.

PT DPM received Work Contract No. 99 PK 0071 of February 18, 1998 from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, with a 24,636-hectare concession. This concession is distributed in three regencies, namely the Dairi and Pakpak Bharat regencies in the province of North Sumatra, and Aceh Singkil Regency in the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

Why we Oppose this Project

  • The majority of people living near the location of the PT DPM project work as peasants who depend on the water, land, rivers, and forests. Around 76 percent of residents (the majority of which are women) work as peasants and for generations their livelihood has depended on agriculture. Their primary commodities include rice, corn, chocolate, coffee, durian, candlenut, langsat, mangosteen, areca nuts, cardamom, bananas, kaffir lime, and gambier. The residents’ agricultural yield is the primary source of food for Dairi Regency and various areas in North Sumatra.
  • PT DPM’s plan to construct a Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) at the upstream area of the village of Longkotan, located in Sopokomil Hamlet, Silima Pungga-pungga Subdistrict, Dairi Regency, jeopardizes the safety of hundreds of thousands of people and the safety of agricultural land, rivers, and sources of water for those living downstream.There are an estimated 11 villages (desa) and 57 hamlets (dusun) that are potentially impacted by the development of the tailing dam. These hundreds of thousands of people reside between the Silima Pungga-pungga Subdistrict of Dairi Regency, North Sumatra Province, and the ocean of Aceh Singkil, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province.Concerning the tailing dam itself, an expert on civil engineering and international dam development, Dr. Richard Meehan—who has had 50 years of experience in the stability of dams in earthquake-prone zones—was contacted by residents and the Joint Secretariat for the Advocacy Against Mining, and expressed great concern for the tailing storage facility that PT DPM is planning to build. Richard concludes that there is a high risk for the tailing dam to collapse due to it being on top of unstable land that is shaped by the Toba Tuff, as well as it being located in a region with high rainfall. The proposed location of the dam is also within the most active earthquake zone in the world, and is close to the tectonic plate that resulted in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. The concern of residents is also justified in light of the Brazilian Vale tailing dam collapse in 2019, which resulted in 65 deaths.

    According to Richard, geological information of the proposed location is required in order to accurately assess the risk of the tailing dam collapsing; however, PT DPM does not disclose this information.

    In addition to Richard, the international hydrology expert, Dr. Steven Emerman, whom we also involve in the advocacy against PT DPM’s mining, stated that PT DPM does not possess a safe closure plan for its tailing dam, nor a plan to observe and sustain the tailing dam for an extended period of time, so as for it to not be a source of danger for future generations. PT DPM also provides no guarantees that local plants will be able to grow at the lead-zinc tailing dam.

    According to Steven Emerman, constructing a tailing dam within 1000 meters of residential houses and places of worship is illegal and violates Chinese law, yet this does not seem to apply in Indonesia. PT DPM also does not state where the water source for its mine is located, nor an estimation of the amount of water usage.

  • Threat of ExplosivesAccording to the Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) and the Forest Leasehold Permit (IPPKH) for PT DPM issued by the Ministry of Forestry in 2012, the explosives warehouse is supposed to be constructed within a forested area. In reality, the explosives warehouse is built in an Other Use Area (APL) that is outside the forested area, in violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment. The explosives warehouse is planned to be built in Sipat Hamlet, Lonkotan Village, Silima Pungga-pungga Subdistrict, that is extremely close (50.64 meters) to residential housing and farmland.
  • Destructive Capacity of Mining on Forest and BiodiversityOut of the 24,636 hectares of concession within the production operation permit, 16,050 hectares are located within protected forests. Based on the Forest Leasehold Permit through Decree No. 578 of 2012, PT DPM is to build supportive facilities such as infrastructure for roads, tunnels, housing, and other facilities. This change in forest land use will threaten the safety of biodiversity.

Therefore, we, the people of Dairi, and the Alliance of Civil Society and the Joint Secretariat of the Advocacy Against Mining of North Sumatra:

  1. Demand the regent of Dairi to revoke Environmental Feasibility Decree No. 731 of November 2005, as well as issue a recommendation letter on the refusal to address the deliberation on the addendum of the Type A RKL-RPL Environmental Impact Assessment of PT DPM.
  2. Demand the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to cease all deliberation on the addendum of the Type A RKL-RPL Environmental Impact Assessment of PT DPM.
  3. Demand the Dairi Regional House of Representatives to immediately form a special committee to aid the people in fighting for their economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights.
  4. The Dairi People’s Movement also invites everyone who is concerned for public safety, environmental sustainability, and the disaster risks of this project, to develop widespread solidarity and oppose the evil plans of Aburizal Bakrie’s corporation that continues to receive special treatment from the government.

Contact persons:

Gerson Tampubulon: – Field Coordinator – 0812629043070

Rinawati Sinaga – Field Coordinator – 082386537166

Debora Gultom – Public Relations – 085261356020

Rohani Manalu – Yayasan Diakonia Pelangi Kasih – 081375123496

Juni Aritonang – Bakumsu – 081362029086

Merah Johansyah – JATAM – 0813 4788 2228