Traces of the Harita Group’s Crimes Behind the IPO of Shares

The Harita Group’s project plan, through its subsidiary, PT Trimegah Bangun Persada (TBP), to increase its capital through an IPO of shares with a valuation of up to IDR 15.1 trillion, will further add to the long series of suffering for the people on Obi Island, North Maluku and Wawonii Island, Southeast Sulawesi. The two densely populated islands are being devastated by the operation of a nickel smelter mine and factory belonging to the conglomerate family Lim Hariyanto Wijaya Sarwono.

The initial offering period for Trimegah Bangun Persada (NCKL) shares begins on March 15th, 2023, and ends today. Then proceed with the public offering period scheduled for April 5-10 2023 and listing on the Indonesia Stock Exchange on April 12th, 2023. Fresh funds of up to IDR 15.1 trillion from this IPO will be used to step up the production process in order to gain fat profits.

The Harita Group’s efforts to boost such a large surplus capital cannot be separated from the plan to build a second nickel processing plant on Obi Island. Currently, PT TBP already has a nickel processing plant in Kawasi Village, Obi Island, using the High-Pressure Acid Leaching process, namely PT. Halmahera Persada Lygend, in collaboration with a company from China, Lygend.

Nickel extraction carried out by companies under the Harita Group has left a long destructive force, irreversible. Starting from large-scale land clearing, polluting the water, air, and sea which has an impact on the health of residents and ecosystems, demolishing forest areas which triggers deforestation, to successive violence against local residents. The operation of the nickel mining and smelter industry – where the entire electricity supply comes from coal, has also triggered the demolition of other islands which are rich in coal. Each island is forced to prey on the other.

Destruction of Territory of the Land and Sea of Obi Island

Harita’s dirty footprint in Kawasi does not merely begins from the construction of a nickel processing factory but in addition from nickel mining operations since 2010. Kawasi is the oldest village on Obi Island, South Halmahera Regency, North Maluku. The area reaches around 286 km2, inhabited by more than 1,118 inhabitants. The Kawasi people have lived on the mainland and coast of Obi Island since the 1980s. They include immigrants from Tobelo-Galela on Halmahera Island, and some from Buton. The people’s livelihoods are gardening and fishing.

Ever since the mining company entered and operated, Kawasi – which originally had residents living peacefully, farming, and fishing to meet their family’s economic needs – has turned into a mining area that has devastated land, coastal, and sea areas. Residents’ lands were annexed, plantation crops disappeared, water sources were polluted, the air was filled with dust and pollution, seawater was murky-brown, and even fish were polluted by heavy metals.

Ironically, the process of annexing resident’s homelands was shrouded in violence and intimidation, furthermore, some residents who refused to have their lands expelled encountered with repressive actions by the state apparatus and companies.

Companies always utilize cunning tactics, by bearing up against first and negotiating afterward. This strategy, apart from causing harm to residents, also narrows the choices of residents to survive in the homeland that has been destroyed and surrounded by mining operations. At the same time, the company claims that the land it forcibly intrudes on belongs to the state, even though the residents have controlled it for decades, and even pay taxes.

Almost water sources from upstream to downstream for Kawasi residents have been polluted, due to nickel ore sedimentation from the company’s operations. Residents – who before the mine entered and operated could get water for free – now have to spend money to get clean water. Some residents who are economically disadvantaged are forced to remain dependent on polluted water sources.

Air Cermin and Sungai Loji, which were previously used by residents as a source of clean water, for example, have now disappeared after the company cleared most of the forest area on the mainland to the coast. Meanwhile, the Ake Lamo River, the largest river on Obi Island, is being demolished by a mining company upstream. The hills which are watersheds and river bodies have been peeled off, causing this river to be in a polluted and damaged condition.

After the people’s living space on land was devastated, the sea space where fishermen catch fish on Obi Island was also destroyed and polluted. The waste that is dumped into rivers and flows into the sea causes the coast and sea to turn a murky brown color.

Pipes for waste disposal from the company’s exploration activities are thought to lead to the sea, causing ecosystems and fish to be vulnerable to heavy metal contamination.

Referring to research conducted by Muhammad Aris in the journal “Heavy Metal (Ni, Fe) Concentration in Water and Histopathological of Marine Fish, in the Obi Island, Indonesia” (2020), heavy metal pollution in the waters of Obi Island accumulates in the physiology of fish. Metals that contaminate seawater can be eaten by plankton, then plankton ingests by small fish and large fish.

Subsequently the people’s living space has been annexed and polluted, the company is now planning to force the residents in Kawasi into the company’s Ecovillage (housing). The location of this Ecovillage is about five kilometers south of Kawasi. The company stated that resident’s settlements are currently too close to the factory and are in an earthquake-prone zone. In line with the company’s side, the local government also argued that the resident’s settlements were too close to the sea, and thus prone to disaster if a tidal wave or tsunami occurs. Other reasons used to justify this relocation are related to Kawasi which is considered to be a slum, trash is scattered everywhere, and the environment is unhealthy and disorderly, as well as frequent conflicts.

The several motives for relocation used by the company and the government above were of course made up and were strongly rejected by the residents. Apart from having lived in Kawasi for hundreds of years, it is precisely the activities of mining companies that are above the earthquake zone that pose a big risk to the safety of residents.

 Land Confiscation and Criminalization of Wawonii Island Residents

The same story happened in another nickel mining area belonging to the Harita Group on Wawonii Island, Southeast Sulawesi, which is operated by PT Gema Kreasi Perdana. Of all the companies holding mining business permits on Wawonii Island, only PT Gema Kreasi Perdana (GKP), a subsidiary of the Harita Group, is currently operating. The operation of this nickel mining company has caused damage to residents and the environment. Residents’ lands have been repeatedly intruded upon, and local landowners who refuse to mine have experienced violence and criminalization and have been in jail.

Since operating on the island of Wawonii, PT. GKP has repeatedly penetrated the lands of residents who refuse to mine. The land breaches occurred on July 9th, 2019, July 16th, 2019, August 22nd, 2019, February 19th, 2023, and most recently on March 9th, 2023. The breaches resulted in damage to local plantation crops such as cashew nuts, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa, to coconut, repeatedly accompanied by heavily armed security forces. Ironically, residents who refuse to sell their land are faced with repressive actions by the security forces.

Up until now, at least 35 citizens have been criminalized by PT. GKP. They were charged with various articles, starting from charges of vandalism, deprivation of independence, and obstruction of mining operations, to articles of defamation using the Constitution of Electronic Information and Transaction Law.

GKP’s operations have also polluted the residents’ water sources. The Tambo Siu-Siu River in Sukarela Jaya Village, which is used for washing, bathing, and drinking water, has turned murky with hints of yellow-brown due to the construction of the company’s hauling road. Residents are forced to look for other water sources that are farther away from their homes with no better quality.

After years of fighting against PT. GKP’s mining, the residents of Wawonii finally won a lawsuit regarding the Mining Business Permit (IUP) and the Regional Regulation (Perda) for the Regional Spatial Plan (RTRW) for the Konawe Islands Regency at the Kendari State Administrative Court.

The legal verdict that came out on Thursday (2/2/2023) granted all the demands of Wawonii residents. In the decision of the Kendari PTUN case No. 67/G/LH/2022/PTUN.KDI stated the cancellation of the decision by the Head of the Investment and One-Stop Services Office of Southeast Sulawesi Province regarding the Approval of Changes in Production Operation Mining Business Permits to PT. GKP in 2019. The court also required the related government to revoke the decision. One of the judges considerations in this decision was that PT. GKP’s IUP was issued without a change in the environmental permit.

In addition, the Supreme Court decision No. 57/P/HUM/2022 dated 22 December 2022 regarding the Regional Regulation on the Spatial Plans (RTRW) of the Konawe Islands Regency, which was also won by the residents of Wawonii Island. Through this Supreme Court decision, the Government must discontinue all mining activities on Wawonii Island, bearing in mind that even in the previous Regional Spatial Planning Regional Regulations there was no space allocation for mining on Wawonii Island.

In spite of the residents winning the lawsuit, PT. GKP actually disobeyed, continued to operate, even on March 9th, 2023, and then returned to the resident’s land in Mosolo Raya. According to local residents, PT. GKP continues to operate and transport nickel ore to Obi Island, South Halmahera, and North Maluku.


Evaluate The Total Assets of Harita Group Operations, Discontinue Investment, Perform Law Enforcement and Damage Restoration

Nickel extraction carried out by companies under the Harita Group has left a long destructive force, irreversible. Extractive industries such as nickel mining demand large-scale land clearing, polluting the water, air, and sea which have an impact on the health of residents and ecosystems, dismantling forest areas that trigger deforestation, to successive violence against local residents.

All of this damage is not considered part of the state’s losses, all is borne by local residents. On the other hand, various incentives through policies and regulations, including investment security guarantees, continue to be provided by the government to these industry players.

The series of environmental and humanitarian crimes committed by the Harita Group should have been stopped and prosecuted. One of the urgent matters is related to the existence of PT. Gema Kreasi Perdana (GKP) on Wawonii Island, Konawe Islands which has been legally illegal after residents won a lawsuit at the Kendari Administrative Court in case no. 67/G/LH/2022/PTUN.KDI for PT. GKP’s mining permit and Supreme Court legal decision No. 57/P/HUM/2022 cancel the allocation of mining space in the Konawe Islands Regency Area, where the government is required to stop all mining activities on Wawonii Island.

Another urgent matter is related to the Harita Group’s brutality, which apart from continuing to expand its operational area, also plans to forcefully relocate the residents of Kawasi, Obi Island to Ecovillage, an attempt to forcefully impoverish and uproot the indigenous people from their village, a living space full of history.

Another urgent matter is related to the Harita Group’s brutality, which apart from continuing to expand its operational area, also plans to forcefully relocate the residents of Kawasi, Obi Island to Ecovillage, an attempt to forcefully impoverish and uproot the indigenous people from their village, a living space full of history.

For corporations, the flow of money that will be obtained from this IPO will speed up the production process to gain multiple profits, while for local residents it is a source of disaster that risks their future and their living space.

The entire activities of the Harita group and its global/regional corporate networks, and their symbiotic affiliation with the armed state apparatus are collaborative crimes of the corporate state.

Report  |   Documentation

Contact person:

  1. Wilmar (Wawonii Island Resident/ +62 822-5249-6896)
  2. MS (Kawasi Island Resident)
  3. Muh Jamil (Head of Legal Division of JATAM/ +62 821-5647-0477)
  4. Melky Nahar (JATAM Coordinator/081319789181)