Jakarta, Kompas: The government should comply with the 2017 coal production standard of 413 million tons to maintain environmental balance. There are indications to increase production to 477 million tons this year. Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia, a civil society coalition for transparency and accountability of Indonesia’s extractive resources, urges the government to comply with coal production as stated in the 2015-2019 National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN). In the document, the coal production benchmark for 2017 is 413 million tonnes.

The coalition said a request from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to the National Development Planning Agency increased coal production this year to 477 million tons. When confirmed regarding the request for an increase in coal production, Sunday (16/7), the Head of the Bureau of Communication, Public Information Services and Cooperation at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Sujatmiko, could not confirm this.

In an official statement from PWYP Indonesia, the National Mining Advocacy Network coordinator, Johansyah Ismail, said that limiting production is essential to maintain environmental balance, especially for coal mining in conservation areas. Apart from restrictions, another strategic plan that is needed is a moratorium on the issuance of mining permits. “Currently, 44 percent of Indonesia’s land and waters have been plotted for mining areas. Of that amount, 10 percent are coal mines, which overlap 4.4 million hectares of productive land, “said Johansyah.

Domestic needs

In the 2015-2019National Medium-Term Development Plan, domestic coal production is limited by the amount that continues to decline until 2019. In 2015 the benchmark for coal production was 425 million tons, while until 2019, it fell to 400 million tons. So far, the average supply of coal for domestic needs is 20 percent of total production, while the rest is for export.

A researcher of coal governance at PWYP Indonesia, Agung Budiono, said that limiting coal production, as stated in the 2015-2019 RPJMN document, has several essential contents. One of them is how to reduce dependence on fossil energy sources to switch to renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, the reference coal price for the July 2017 period was set by the government at 78.95 US dollars per ton. This price increased compared to the benchmark coal price in June 2017 of 75.46 US dollars per ton. The increase in prices was due to some factors, such as high rainfall and the Eid holiday in June 2017.

“Due to high rainfall and holidays, coal production activity from mines in Indonesia has decreased. This causes the supply to be regional and international markets to decline,” said Sujatmiko. For Indonesia, coal is essential as a raw material for electricity generation. In addition to the cheaper cost of producing steam power plants from coal burning, Indonesia’s coal reserves are relatively abundant.

Under the 35,000-megawatt power generation program, about 60 percent of the total generation is steam-powered. However, the exploitation of coal mines for power generation needs in Indonesia has been rejected by many parties. The issue of rejection is based on environmental problems. The results of burning coal are considered contrary to the Paris agreement to reduce exhaust emissions. Indonesia is one of the countries that signed the agreement.