TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The commotion over the mining licenses of Sebuku Iron Lateritic Ores (SILO) is not a recent development. Long before South Kalimantan Governor Sahbirin, Noor revoked the mining licenses of three subsidiaries of SILO last January, problems with the licenses issued to that business group for Laut Island, Kotabaru Regency, had been heard in Jakarta.
Eight years ago, the Judicial Mafia Eradication Task Force formed by former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono investigated the issuing of mining business licenses to five companies in 2010. Those companies were: Sebuku Batubai Coal, Sebuku Tanjung Coal, and Sebuku Sejaka Coal, which mined coal, and Banjar Asri and Ikatrio Sentosa, which mined iron ore.
Read: Showdown at the Mines
Sebuku Batubai Coal, Sebuku Tanjung Coal, and Sebuku Sejaka Coal are three SILO subsidiaries whose licenses were revoked by Sahbirin last January. Banjar Asri and Ikatrio Sentosa are affiliated with the SILO Group through its CEO, Effendy Tios, who is also deputy CEO of SILO.
The task force led by Chief of the Presidential Working Unit for Development Supervision and Control at that time, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, personally traveled to South Kalimantan. "There were many reports from locals about land disputes there," said Yunus Husein, a former member of the task force.
Yunus, who is also a former Chief of the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), said that their team investigated the mining licenses of those five companies. The task force had received a report about mining licenses being sold right before the regional head election was to be held, as well as many disputes over the ownership of the mines. "Haji Isam was an important figure in that issue," said Yunus, referring to mining businessman Andi Syamsuddin Arsyad.
According to a study conducted by the task force, the licenses for those mining companies potentially violated a number of regulations. When the licenses were issued on April 20, 2009, Regulation of the Regent of Kotabaru No. 30/2004 regarding the Ban on Coal Mining Activity on Laut Island was still in effect. This regulation banning mining on Laut Island was not revoked until June 30, 2010, more than a year after the licenses were issued.
The ban on mining on Laut Island was strengthened by Law No. 27/2007 regarding the Management of Coastal Regions and Small Islands. This regulation says that small islands are those whose area is less 2,000 square kilometers. Based on land survey made by the Mining Advocacy Network group, Laut Island has an area of just 1,955.93 square kilometers. According to the Kotabaru Regional Development Planning Agency, it only measures 2,080 square kilometers.
Consequently, according to that law, mining may not take place on Laut Island. In fact, in addition to banning the mining of minerals, oil, and gas, collecting sand on small islands such as Laut Island is also forbidden.
Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine