Experts: Mining in Small Islands Lead to Serious Harms

Achmad Santosa, Rignolda Djamaluddin, and Abdul Motalib Angkotasan (right to left) testifying for the Relevant Parties at a judicial review hearing of the Law on the Management of Coastal Zone and Small Islands, Thursday (2/1/2024). Photo by MKRI/Ifa.

JAKARTA (MKRI) — Another material judicial review hearing of Article 23 paragraph (2) and Article 35 letter k of Law No. 1 of 2014 on the Amendment to Law No. 27 of 2007 on the Management of Coastal Zones and Small Islands (Coastal Management/PWP3K Law) took place on Thursday, February 1, 2024 in the plenary courtroom.

Chief Justice Suhartoyo and the other eight constitutional justices presiding at the online hearing, where the Relevant Parties Idris and others presented Achmad Santosa, Abdul Motalib Angkotasan, and Rignolda Djamaluddin. Achmad Santosa as experts. These experts emphasized that the management of natural resources must not only be based on Article 33 paragraph (3) of the 1945 Constitution but also Article 33 paragraph (4) and Article 28H of the 1945 Constitution as well as Article 3 and Article 4 of the PWP3K Law and sustainable development, especially the intergenerational and precautionary principles.

Achmad said that Indonesia believes in strong sustainability so, he added, Article 23 paragraph (2) of the Coastal Management Law, which does not allow for mining in small islands, is in line with the principles and objectives of Article 3 and Article 4 letter a of the Coastal Management Law, which put emphasis on sustainability as well as protection and conservation of the resources on coastal zones and small islands.

He also said that Article 23 paragraph (2) is in line with the principle of strong sustainability, which demands protection of critical natural capital such as coastal areas and small islands. It is also in line with sustainable development, especially the intergenerational and precautionary principles, and that the characteristics of mining activities are abnormally dangerous activities that lead to serious harms.

“Therefore, [I] believe that Article 35 letter k of the Coastal Management Law must be interpreted to mean that the management of small islands are not for mining activities,” he stressed.

Oceanographic Factors

Meanwhile, Rignolda Djamaluddin, an expert presented by Relevant Party Abd. Latif, said that small islands in the archipelago are very specific geologically (flanked by two continental plates and two oceanic plates), oceanographically (between two oceans), and geographically (equatorial). The oceanographic factors that apply to small islands are different from those on large land masses. The action of waves and currents that apply to small islands is more active and complex, which led to changes in the coastal areas of small islands. “The action of oceanographic factors will become more complex and dynamic in the future with the influence of climate change in the form of sea level rise and tropical storm events,” he explained.

He revealed that the very dynamic oceanographic conditions that apply to the waters around small islands are very clearly identified in the coastal vulnerability index of small islands, which is generally at a moderate to very high level. With this level of vulnerability, small islands in Indonesia could very easily degrade.

He asserted that in the future, small islands will be increasingly vulnerable due to sea level rise.  Long-term impacts of sea level rise on small islands can include retreat of the coastline, submergence of nearshore land with gentle topography, and the worst will be the slow disappearance of islands with gentle topography. For certain islands affected by storm surges (tropical cyclones), the physical damage in the coastal area will be very serious.

Meanwhile, Abdul Motalib Angkotasan emphasized that small islands have different types of island shapes. Each island has a different water capacity. So, in the context of availability, they are very dependent on forest vegetation on land, which then becomes a buffer to absorb rainwater into a source of clean water for coastal communities. Thus, small islands themselves are very dependent on the availability of clean water.

Abdul said there will be changes in the land landscape on small islands due to mining exploitation. This is because vegetation is cleared for mining minerals, causing deforestation as well as loss of vegetation, flora, and fauna. When that happens, the ecosystem on the mainland will be destroyed. Moreover, the islands that are being exploited are on average hilly islands with a slope elevation of more than 10 degrees.

Also read:

Provisions on Ban on Mineral Mining in Coasts and Isles Challenged

PT Gema Kreasi Perdana Revises Petition on Mineral Mining in Coasts and Isles

Provisions on Management of Small Islands Serve to Protect and Conserve

Customary Community’s Rights in Coastal and Small Island Areas

Govt Has Good Control over Small-Island Mining

Legal Politics of Coastal and Small Islands Management

Mining in Wawonii Island Damage Social Harmony and Cohesion

Witnesses Talk Effects of Mining in Wawonii Island

The case No. 35/PUU-XXI/2023 on the judicial review of Article 23 paragraph (2) and Article 35 letter k of the PWP3K Law was filed by PT Gema Kreasi Perdana, represented by executive director Rasnius Pasaribu. The Petitioner is a limited liability company (PT) with a mining business permit for small islands. It feels its constitutional rights had been violated by the enactment of Article 23 paragraph (2) and Article 35 letter k of the Coastal Management Law, which the Supreme Court interpreted as an unconditional ban on mining activities in small islands, while the Petitioner has a valid permit by the mining authority to mine nickel in the area. Its permit has undergone changes from the initial permit No. 26 of 2007, issued prior to the enactment of Law No. 27 of 2007.

The Petitioner asserted that if Article 23 paragraph (2) and Article 35 letter k of Law No. 1 of 2014 be interpreted as an unconditional ban on mining activities, all spatial planning for coastal zones and small islands regulated in regional regulations would conflict with the a quo Law and must be revised. As a consequence, all activities by mining companies in those areas must be ceased. This would be detrimental to those companies, including the Petitioner, who had paid their dues to the state.  

Author       : Utami Argawati
Editor        : Nur R.
PR            : Tiara Agustina
Translator  : Yuniar Widiastuti (NL)

Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian versions, the Indonesian version will prevail.

Thursday, February 01, 2024 | 16:58 WIB 29