Category: Mining

No signs of life as search goes on week after Indonesia mine collapse

Rescue workers have detected no signs of life as the search continued for dozens of people still buried after last week’s collapse of an unlicensed gold mine in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province, an official said Tuesday.  

Scores of miners were buried after a wooden platform they were using at the mine in Bolaang Mongondow district collapsed on February 26 due to unstable soil, officials said.

Searchers found four more bodies and body parts on Monday, bringing the confirmed death toll to at least 13, said Ferry Arianto, spokesman for the provincial search and rescue agency.

Twenty miners were rescued, but two of them died later, he said. It was not clear how many were still buried, with estimates ranging from 30 to 70. 

“We used a life sensor but there were no signs that any victims were still alive,” he said.  

“Only 20 families have so far come forward, because the workers came from outside the area and they didn’t know each other,”      

Deadly accidents in artisanal gold mines are not uncommon in Indonesia.  

There are at least 1,000 such mines across the archipelago, according the Indonesian People’s Mining Association.  

The United Nations Environmental Programme says artisanal and small-scale miners make up 90 per cent of the global gold mine workforce of about 15 million people.

Artisanal miners often work under dangerous conditions, with exposure to mercury used to extract gold from ore among the hazards, the UN said.  

Advertisements

Indonesia aims to emulate Norway in managing its mineral wealth

After three years leading Indonesia’s largest state-owned bank by assets, former Bank Mandiri chief executive officer Budi Gunadi Sadikin has a new role as special staff to Rini Soewandi, the Minister of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE).

In this role, which he started in late June 2016, Budi is charged with establishing a holding company made out of state-owned mining enterprises to re-do the way the government handles its future stakes in the industry.

Continue reading “Indonesia aims to emulate Norway in managing its mineral wealth”

New Pertamina chief faces one-price fuel policy challenge in a vast archipelago

The newly appointed president director of state-owned energy firm Pertamina, Elia Massa Manik, has a huge task ahead to carry out President Joko Widodo’s one-price fuel policy, in the face of inadequate infrastructure to distribute fuel to the country’s remote areas and far-flung islands in the Indonesian archipelago.

Maryati Abdullah, the national coordinator for PWYP Indonesia, a civil society coalition for energy and extractive industry governance reform, considers the policy is viable if Pertamina could import crude oil at a much more affordable price and refine it in its own refineries.

“They could start by revitalizing its existing, old refineries so they could increase its production output, while also remain committed to developing new ones,” she said.

Unit pengolahan cilacap

Pertamina refinery in Cilacap, Central Java. Photo: Pertamina.com

Widodo announced the policy in October 2016 during a visit to Yahukimo, a district near the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border in the easternmost province of Papua. Due to the location and lack of infrastructure in Papua and the eastern part of Indonesian archipelago, fuel prices can cost up to a dozen time more from the normal price of 6,450 rupiah per liter for petrol and 5,150 rupiah per liter for solar. The policy is expected to cost Pertamina about 800 billion rupiah annually.

Fahmy Radhi, an economic energy analyst from Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta agrees that having its own production infrastructure could give Pertamina wider fuel distribution coverage.

“If it has its own refineries, Pertamina won’t have to import up to 650,000 barrel per day. This is a huge amount that the oil and gas rent seekers have been cavorting around,” Fahmy said.

Kurtubi, a lawmaker from the House of Representatives Commission VII which oversees energy and mineral resources said as a company drawn to constitutional obligation about exploitation of the country’s natural resources should benefit the people, there is more that Pertamina has to consider in its operation than merely making a profit.

Article 33 in Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution states that “sectors of production which are important for the country and affect the life of the people shall be controlled by the state and the land, the waters and the natural riches contained therein shall be controlled by the State and exploited to the greatest prosperity of the people.”

“One-price fuel policy is a constitutional mandate. Pertamina could do it as long as the cost is efficient,” Kurtubi, who goes by one name, said.

“The new president director has to be able to operate the company without contradicting the constitution,” he added.

Kurtubi also said that cutting fuel import should be high in Pertamina’s agenda under Manik’s leadership.

“It should develop its own refineries so that Pertamina could produce its own fuel to meet the domestic demands,” Kurtubi said, adding that the existence of a refinery in a certain area could also create multiplier effects that would boost the local economy and open new jobs.

Manik was appointed to head the company during Pertamina’s general shareholders meeting at the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry in Jakarta on March 16, more than a month after then-chief executive Dwi Soetjipto and deputy director Ahmad Bambang were ousted on Feb 3 because of what the government – its majority shareholder – was a leadership problem and a lack of teamwork.

Manik, who was the president director of PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) III, the holding company of 14 state plantations firms since April 2016, is an alumnus of Bandung Institute of Technology and Asean Institute Of Management.

In his first address to Pertamina’s employees, Manik said he would focus on strengthening the company’s human resources and maintaining Pertamina’s improved performance for the past years.

Sudirman Said, the then-energy and mineral resources minister, said in 2015 that Pertamina was able to save 250 billion rupiah per day after ousted CEO Dwi in 2015 disbanded Pertamina Energy Trading Limited (Petral), a Singapore-based Pertamina subsidiary handled crude and fuel oil imports for the state energy company and was notorious for being the oil and gas rent seekers’ den.

“There are many important projects we need to execute to achieve the national energy security goal, therefore it is important to gain trust so that we can adeptly carry out the projects,” Manik said.

PWYP Indonesia had urged the government to select the new president director in a transparent, credible and independent manner, following the Feb 3 ouster of Dwi.

Maryati said the government didn’t say much about the reason they appointed Manik, but given his public track record on improving corporate efficiency, she holds a favorable view that Manik would be efficient in his human resources planning and be able to restructure various executive positions to a more effective appointments.

“We also hope he would not be swayed by certain political interests,” Maryati said.

 

An Indonesian miner survives 300 meter underground as rescue attempt underway

A rescue operation was under way Sunday to free a miner who has been trapped for seven days in an underground gold mine on Halmahera island in Indonesia’s North Maluku province.

Solo drill operator Mursalim Sahman, 36, is reportedly in good health despite being trapped in a mining chamber 300 metres underground and has maintained contact with his family using a newly installed phone line.

The Gosowong gold mine is operated by PT Nusa Halmahera Mineral (NHM), a joint venture between Australia’s Newcrest Mining, which controls 75 per cent of the shares, and state-owned miner PT Aneka Tambang.

“Earlier this morning we broke through into the chamber where Mursalim is located after completing the boring of a 70-centimetre diameter hole approximately 38 metres deep. This is a significant milestone in developing our primary rescue option,” Newcrest managing director and CEO Sandeep Biswan said in a statement released Sunday.

“Before we attempt the extraction, we will need to line the bore hole so that we can safely bring Mursalim up. It is expected that lining the hole will take several days,” Biswan said.

Local news web site Viva.co.id reported that there were 50 miners who were working in the Kencana underground mine tunnel when it collapsed on Monday, but 49 managed to get out, while Mursalim, who is a native of Halmahera, failed to do the same as he was manning heavy machinery.

The rescue operation has been under way since then. Operation of the company’s underground mines, which produce gold and silver dore, has been halted in the meantime.

A spokeswoman for NHM, Herastuti Haryogyo said the company was able to establish first contact with Mursalim Wednesday at around 10:00 Eastern Indonesia Time (WIT) since the collapse through a 54-meter bore hole with small diameter.

According to the company, Mursalim told the rescue team that he has some food and water supply to go by underground.

The company said a “geotechnical” event of unknown cause spurred the mine collapse, which occurred at 8:30 pm on Monday.

NHM workforce is about 1,700 employees and contractors. It produced 331,555 ounces of gold as of June 2015.