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Indonesia: Mining companies seek approval to dispose mining waste into ocean despite potential damage to local ecosystem; Harita responds

A recent media report alleges that the Indonesian Government has received requests from Harita Group as well as from Tsingshan Group, GEM Co. Ltd., and partners to allow the disposal of mining waste into the ocean floor despite the possibility of damage to the local ecosystem.

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies mentioned in the report to respond to the concerns raised in the report. Harita's response is linked below. Tsingshan and GEM did not respond.

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Company response
27 June 2020

Harita Group's response

Author: Harita Group

[...]

We are in the early stages of feasibility study to use a Deep Sea Tailing Placement ("DSTP") for the tailings of the HPAL process. The tailings will be placed far below Thermocline at depths of more than 200 meters below sea level ("mbsl") using a metal chute and will flow following the seabed topography towards a canyon to a depth of more than 1,200 mbsl. Our studies involve the study of deep-sea tailings placement experts, oceanography, biota, hydrometallurgy and social economic impact in cooperation with experts from the U.S. and Australia in order to minimize the environmental impact of the process.

The main reason for DSTP is that the many earthquakes in the area may damage the dam walls if we use a Tailing Storage Facility, which can cause environmental issues, such as the Brumandinho dam disaster that occurred in Brazil on 25 January 2019 and resulted in 270 dead or missing people. Our company recognizes the worries of international communities on DSTP and it will invest in identifying and addressing these risks, not merely once at the onset of the proposed project; it will roll out a significant impact monitoring program.

Harita Group has always shown strong commitment to implement good mining practices by promoting good environmental management and carrying out development and empowerment of communities around the mining area in a sustainable manner.

[...]

Download the full document here

Company non-response
25 June 2020

GEM Co., Ltd. did not respond

GEM Co., Ltd. did not respond

Company non-response
25 June 2020

Tsingshan Group did not respond

Tsingshan Group did not respond.

Article
30 May 2020

Indonesian authorities are considering requests to dispose mining waste into the ocean amid heightened sensitivity about the environmental impact of mining

Author: Fransiska Nangoy, Thomson Reuters Foundation

31 May 2020

Indonesian authorities are considering two companies' requests to dispose mining waste into the ocean...at a time of heightened sensitivity about the environmental impact of mining.

[...]

Environmentalists, however, are concerned such developments will damage the local ecosystem.

"Two companies have requested deep-sea tailing permits. One is based on Obi Island and another is from Morowali," Safri Burhanuddin, a senior official at the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs [...].

Harita Group is building a high-pressure acid leaching plant on Obi Island to extract battery-grade chemicals from nickel ore, and China's Tsingshan Group, GEM Co Ltd and partners are doing likewise in Morowali on Sulawesi Island.

Reuters could not reach Tsingshan or GEM for comment on Sunday. Calls to Harita went unanswered.

Burhanuddin [...] said the requests are under consideration by the maritime and fishery ministry and the environment ministry.

Burhanuddin said oceans around Obi Island and Morowali are more than 1,000 metres (0.62 miles) deep and safe for waste dumping, and that the government will only allow the disposal of materials it deems safe.

"The most important thing is how we control this," he said. "All mining activities have aspects that are not environmentally friendly. We just have to minimise them."

Read the full post here