Sangihe is a beautiful small island. We REJECT its exploitation! #SaveSangiheIsland

Sangihe is a beautiful small island. We REJECT its exploitation! #SaveSangiheIsland

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Indonesian version

Indonesia is about to breach the World Ocean Declaration in the very home of where the declaration was signed, in North Sulawesi Indonesia via its Ministry for Energy and Minerals (ESDM) just granted a construction and production permit (IUP) to junior gold miner company BARU GOLD CORPORATION (formerly branded as East Asia Minerals Corporation) from Canada on January 29th, 2021.

The contract of work is highly controversial in several respects.

First of all, it violates Indonesian Constitutional Law itself as the law interdicts small islands to be mined. Chapter 35(k) of Constitutional Law UU 27/2007 relating to small islands and coastal management and later amended by UU 1/2014 states clearly: “no one is allowed to exploit minerals on small islands”. UU 27/2007 states that islands smaller than 2000 km2 are protected from destruction.

The mining concession grants 42.000 ha or almost half of the island of Sangihe that only measures 736 km2 to be exploited by PT. Tambang Mas Sangihe (TMS) which is the Indonesian company registered by BARU Gold Corporation.

Furthermore, Sangihe is a highly fragile island, a fact that is underlined by the National Disaster Prevention Agency that categorizes Sangihe as a high-risk area prone to volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, earthquakes and land mass movements. The concession was granted in 2009, whereas the Constitutional Law that protects small islands from mining was released in 2007 which means that the issuance of the Contract of Work is not in concordance with the law.

Secondly it breaches the World Ocean Declaration which was signed by almost 80 countries during the World Ocean Conference in Manado, North Sulawesi in May 2009, including Indonesia as host and Canada as a guest, both signatures of the Declaration:

We declare the following:

  1. We will strive to achieve long-term conservation, management and sustainable use of marine living resources and coastal habitats (…)
  2. We will implement integrated coastal and ocean management, including marine and coastal land use planning, to minimize and reduce the risk and vulnerability of coastal communities and critical infrastructure.
  3. We will strive to reduce pollution of ocean, coastal and land areas and to promote sustainable management of fisheries in accordance with relevant international agreements and codes of conduct in order to enhance the health and thus the resilience of coastal and marine Ecosystems.

The Declaration commits signatories to implement long term conservation and sustainable management of marine resources to fulfill internationally agreed development goals including the United Nations Millennium Development Goals on human health, food security, poverty alleviation and disaster-preparedness, where these relate to the marine environment.

Cynically the capital of North Sulawesi Province hosts the Regional Coral Triangle Secretariat which was built in Manado as a result of the Coral Triangle Summit that took place under the umbrella of the World Ocean Conference and was meant to underline the commitment of the six member countries. Cynically, too, the exploration concession was granted to East Asia Minerals Corporation in the very same year, or behind the stage, thus the International Ocean Declaration appears as a theatre joke.

Thirdly the approval to the Environmental Permit (AMDAL/ EIA) appeared suddenly out of nowhere in September 2020 obviously ignoring all the requirements that need to be fulfilled by law in order to be granted.

From statements of the local traditional leaders (ketua adat) it appears that the affected people and local communities were not involved at any stage. There was neither socialization on the local level nor discussion. Chapter 135 of the Constitutional Law UU 4/ 2009 (UU minerba) requires mining operators to hold the consent of the landowners or holders of land rights.

As the chairman of the Tradition Board of the People of Sangihe Regency, Olden Ambui, stated in a public declaration on April 3rd, 2021: “Our environment needs to be saved from any kind of human destruction out of greed. If man will destroy it, there will be terrible disasters coming upon us, because nature will punish us. Therefore, we, the people of Sangihe, reject PT. Tambang Mas Sangihe and forbid it to exploit our land.”

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