TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesian Environmental group Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) Papua, Aiesh Rumbekwan, urged the government to force PT Freeport Indonesia clean the mining waste that spilled and contaminated the environment in Mimika, Papua. According to Aiesh, the operation reduced the environmental quality around the area.
“Such pollution should be cleared right away. Whatever the technology used, that’s the government’s affairs to restore the environment,” said Aiesh to Tempo, Monday, May 7.
In October 2017, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry imposed administrative sanctions in the form of coercion on PT Freeport Indonesia over 47 violations on environmental damages. However, there is no single order saying to clean the spilled mining waste.
According to Walhi research, Freeport operations have damaged the environment in Mimika from the upstream to downstream. The damages starting from acid rock drainage that destroyed the groundwater in the hills, heavy metal piles in plants and animals, to contaminated sea waters which the number of marine animal species declines by up to 70 percent. The last year's findings of Supreme Audit Agency also showed the damage has been widened.
"There will be a tremendous sediment buildup," Aiesh added.
PT Freeport Indonesia's Environmental Responsibility Management Team Chairman, Ilyas Asaad, confirmed that there has been no plan to clean up the spilled waste from the Ajkwa (Modified Ajkwa Deposition Area / ModADA) shelter thus far. Ilyas argued the government currently focuses on preventing greater damage. The Environment and Forestry Ministry have issued management standards through the Ministerial Decree No. SK.175/Menlhk.Setjen/PLB.3/4/2018 on 5 April.
"What we see is how to stop the legal basis of the previous management," said Ilyas, who is also the Ministry’s Inspector General.
Freeport denied its actions violated the rules. The company spokesman Riza Pratama said the existing waste management is the result of a joint agreement with the government.
According to the Freeport company, the contaminated environment will recover itself after the mining is complete. "The deposition area will become a community asset as it can be a plantation area," he said.