Ministry of Environment Discovers 47 Freeport Violations

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Ministry of Environment and Forestry imposed administrative sanctions on PT Freeport Indonesia for damaging the environment around the Grasberg mine, Papua. Sanctions in the form of coercion for Freeport to rehabilitate the environment and monitoring the mining waste periodically. The ministry said it could freeze their environmental permits if the company does not comply with orders.

    "We have been monitoring since 2017. From those results, 47 violations were found, it was grouped in certain sections," said Director of Complaints, Control and Administrative Sanctions of the Ministry of Environment Yazid Nurhuda told Tempo on Tuesday, March 13.

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    The Ministry of Environment stated that Freeport's operations are not in accordance with the environmental monitoring and management plan (RKL-RPL). The company also did not monitor and control a variety of pollution in the air, sea, river, and forest. Included among the pollution is the waste of hazardous and toxic materials (B3).

    Because of the violations, the ecosystems of rivers, mangrove forests, and sea are exposed to mining waste. The pollution point is derived from a waste disposal pond or Modified Ajkwa Deposition Area (ModADA). Apart from dredging activities, supporting facilities such as power plants and lime factories also contaminate the environment.

    The Ministry of Environment's findings is in line with the results of last year's investigation of the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK). The BPK found the remaining mining sand of the Freeport has spilled over into the land to the sea. The spill was because the ModADA capacity was not enough to accommodate the waste that increased from 100 thousand tons per day in 1990 to 300 thousand tons per day in 2016. BPK noted the potential loss due to the waste spill has reached Rp185 trillion.

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    Based on the Freeport McMoran's 2017 report to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the remaining mining sand is dumped through the Ajkwa river. The method is a bad sentiment in the eyes of international financial institutions, especially Europe, because it is not environmentally friendly.

    The government has actually asked Freeport to change the method of handling mine waste from the river to pipelines. Because the shelter pond is predicted will not be enough because the company's production will be much increased. Especially when the underground mining will operate until 2041.

    However, based on its annual report, the company insists on using the old way because it is low cost and minimal risk. "Based on our study, pipelines are more at risk of failure," the company said in a report. Related to this, Freeport spokesman Riza Pratama did not answer Tempo's confirmation.

    Director General of Minerals and Coal of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Bambang Gatot Ariyono considers that environmental violations are not the reason for the government to stop the negotiation on the continuation of Freeport operations until 2041. "The negotiations continue," he said.