Activist Sounds Alarm Over New Mining Plan

Banda Aceh, TAG - An activist in Aceh has attacked the provincial administration for endorsing a mining plan that he insists will severely damage the environment and cause more conflict.

 Teuku Muhammad Zulfikar, executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment’s (Walhi) Aceh chapter, said on Wednesday that officials included an integrated mining plan in the 2012 development blueprint.

Zulfikar said the move ran counter to the “Aceh Green” theme promoted by Governor Irwandi Yusuf.

“Reviving the mining industry here would be to the detriment of the Acehnese,” he said.

“There are plenty of examples in the country showing that mining has never helped improve local welfare.”

But in a development planning summit on Tuesday, Irwandi said his priority was to spur economic growth based on agriculture, mining and tourism.

Zulfikar said the governor’s statement was “suspicious” because the local government had on prior occasions stressed that the mining sector should not be a key growth driver.

“This could be the result of lobbying by mining firms who want to strip Aceh of its mineral wealth,” he said.

“It also comes at a time when the political elites are jockeying for funding for the gubernatorial and district elections later this year,” Zulfikar added.

The vote for a new governor as well as 16 district heads and mayors is set for October, when Irwandi will run for re-election.

Zulfikar said existing iron mines in Aceh Besar and South Aceh districts threatened to contaminate water supply and spark conflicts between villagers and mining companies.

“Most people protest against these firms. There’s a real fear that conflicts will worsen if the state insists on allowing more mining operations,” he said.

The Walhi official also said vague mining regulations made it hard to gauge how much revenue the province would get from mining concessions, adding that the number of jobs created by the industry would be minimal.[]
Activist Sounds Alarm Over New Mining Plan Activist Sounds Alarm Over New Mining Plan Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on April 07, 2011 Rating: 5

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