“In this mining activity, we can supply energy to other people, but to supply it ourselves is much loss that we get.”

Said Mr. Ahmad Wijaya, Bioma Foundation, during an interview in Samarinda City in YXA Camp 2018 (Youth Xtra Active) closing series. PWYP Indonesia initiated the agenda with the theme ‘Samarinda Moves to Action for the Climate, Switching from Dirty Energy to Energy Renewable Energy.’ It takes three days involving five youths from East Kalimantan and five youths outside East Kalimantan through a national selection process. In this short activity, Euis, as one of the participants, had the opportunity to visit directly to see the mining area very close to residential areas. She could walk far to see the magnificence of the mining area, which is currently considered to pay less attention to environmental and social aspects that already exist.

Mining activities in the total area of ​​Samarinda City have now reached 71% (Jatam, 2017). In this record, it is clear that there is something wrong with the licensing system, governance, and mining pattern; it is easy to ignore the rules and policies that apply. The benefits felt by the mining industry and the government is not comparable to the guarantees they have promised to the communities around the mining area. During mining activities, residents around the mine are asked to leave their homes while they blast their mine excavations. Even in one day, the ‘blasting’ or blasting activity can be carried out ten times. Each resident is given one bottle of drink, one no more bread, and packages of food aid which more or less contain ground coffee, tea, sugar, rice, oil, and four packs of instant noodles each month. Furthermore, “if for assistance in the form of money or educational guarantees rich in scholarships and health insurance, yes, there are none except if there is a compensation event for orphans, widows and the elderly only,” said a transmigrant resident from Java Island in Kerta Bhuana Village.

It was a different story in transmigrant villages such as Mulawarman Village, where they revealed that the last house in this village was just waiting to move because the house currently occupied had been purchased by a coal mining company that surrounded their village. There was no other choice due to the spread of the mining area in the settlements. Mulawarman lost the ecological, social & cultural order system and the difficulty of getting clean water because mining activities around their homes had polluted it. Such as villages that were lost previously due to mining activities also.

Currently, at least two large coal mining companies operate around Mulawarman Village, namely PT. Jembayan Muara Bara and PT. Kayan Putra Utama Coal. The two companies started production in 2003 and are still ongoing today. The hilly forest area that used to surround the area of ​​the transmigrant village has now been depleted and turned into a significant depression due to continuous massive excavation. Hundreds of hectares of rice fields owned by residents have also changed their function to become black gold mining areas. Head of Mulawarman Village Mulyono revealed that from the area of ​​agricultural land, both paddy fields and fields, which was initially around 526 hectares when the transmigrant village area was first opened in 1981, now only 20 hectares remain.

Meanwhile, the residential area, now inhabited by approximately 812 households or approximately 3,000 people, covers ​​65.75 hectares. “Residents are forced to sell their paddy fields to the company because they are no longer productive. It is challenging to plant rice like before because there is not enough irrigation,” said Mulyono on the sidelines of receiving a visit from the Governor of East Kalimantan Awang Faroek Ishak in Mulawarman Village, (Antara, 2017). “We do not want to blame anyone. We think about the fate and future of the children of Mulawarman Village,” he added.

If indeed coal mining activities have significantly contributed to; 1) Sources of state foreign exchange; 2) Sources of Local Own Revenue (PAD); 3) Alternative energy sources for local communities; 4) Accommodating the workforce, then why is it not worth the positive impact it causes? As we know, the negative impacts of mining activities are that; 1) Some of the mining companies are accused of not paying attention to environmental sustainability; 2) Deforestation for mining activities; 3) Mining activity waste that pollutes the environment; 4) Ex-mining areas that are left gaping; 5) Endanger the surrounding community; 6) Mining land disputes with local communities; 7) Contribution to the surrounding community that is felt by the community is still lacking; 8) Regional relations and involvement in mining activities are still lacking, (Asis Djajadiningrat, 2003).

To minimize these negative impacts, the government should enforce the law consistently so that contractors carrying out coal mining activities can comply with the legal provisions that apply in the mining sector. Article 30 of Law no. 11/1967 concerning Mining expressly stated as follows:

“When mining and excavation work is completed at a work site, the holder of the mining authorization concerned is obliged to return the land in such a way that it does not pose a danger of disease or other hazards.” However, this rule, in reality, only applies on paper.

After the explanation above, we are no strangers to discussing criticism; of course, every problem has a solution. What does it mean if we can only criticize without giving suggestions? Then what should we do about this mining problem?

  1. We make permit holders comply with applicable rules and policies even though this is difficult to achieve, but this is the key. Completing the administration, paying jamrek funds (reclamation guarantees), and implementing the industry according to the agreement should not be ignored because ignoring one is the same as turning the mining industry into a death threat. “Because 28 children have been recorded as dead in the mining ponds,” added the Director of POKJA 30 Samarinda, Carolus Tuah, during a talk show at D’orange coffee Samarinda.
  2. We must also encourage PKP2B to be transparent and open.
  3. Support the development of renewable energy for the transition from fossil energy.
  4. Moreover, we can do many other things together to save the environment and our earth from environmental pollution because all of this starts today and from ourselves for long-term prosperity.

By: Euis Haryati