President Orders to Stop Mercury Use in Traditional Mining
1 January 1970 07:00 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - President Joko Widodo has instructed small-scale gold miners to stop the use of mercury, as it could damage the environment and harm public health.
The use of mercury in various industries, including traditional and small-scale gold mines, could create negative impact on the environment as well as public health, the president stated at a closed-door meeting on mercury use in traditional mining on Thursday.
"I have received information that the use of mercury in 850 hotspots of traditional mines has caused hazardous pollution. This has affected not only the health of 250,000 miners but also their families, especially the children and the people living around the mines," Jokowi, as he is popularly known, noted.
As a signatory country of Minamata Convention in Kumamoto, Japan, on Oct 10, 2013, Indonesia should not let such practices to continue.
The president has issued seven instructions for his aides, firstly, to improve the management of small-scale mining both inside and outside forest areas.
"Secondly, to ban the use of mercury in traditional mining. During my visit to Maluku province three weeks ago, I asked the police chief to stop gold mines in Mount Botak that used mercury, and they have already been stopped by the police chief," he noted.
Monitoring would also become crucial, he stressed, adding that the ban would also be applied for medium and large-scale mining.
"I asked the authority to monitor not only the traditional mining but also the medium and large-scale ones," Jokowi remarked.
In addition, monitoring the source of mercury would also be tightened, after reports that the mercury used in traditional mining were imported illegally.
"I have instructed an evaluation of mercury supply and distribution, including its import. I have been informed that mercury for traditional mining has been illegally imported," he underlined.
He pointed out that the tragedy in Minamata Bay, Japan, in 1950s should become a lesson.
"We should educate the people that mercury exposure could harm not only the miners and their families but also the future of their children, who could suffer physical as well as mental defects," Jokowi added.
The government would seek alternative livelihoods for the illegal miners whose mines are closed by the government.
Jokowi has also called on the Health Ministry to provide medical assistance for those who have been exposed to the hazardous material.