Trenggalek People’s Alliance personally demand the government revoke PT Summer Mineral Nusantara’s mine permit in East Java

Thirty-nine Trenggalek People’s Alliance representatives arrived in Jakarta on 23 October 2022. They travelled from Trenggelek district in East Java province to Jakarta to convey the residents’ rejection of the PT Sumber Mineral Nusantara (SMN) gold mine due to environmental considerations and disasters, especially floods that are getting worse in Trenggalek. Most of the water comes from the mining area.

A week before the representatives arrived in Jakarta, Trenggalek was hit by a massive flood due to extreme rainfall. The water came mainly from the gold mining concession area. On 8 October 2022, the flood started a series of disasters in the Trenggalek district. The incident hit all sub-districts in Trenggalek, consisting of 47 villages and two urban villages in the middle of the city.  Later on 17 October 2022, severe flooding hit parts of downtown Trenggalek with water levels of 50-100 centimetres submerging streets and residential areas. Public facilities, such as government offices and hospitals, were also flooded.

Wahyu Eka Setiawan, Executive Director of Walhi East Java, said that on the disaster-prone map of the Trenggalek Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD Trenggalek) from 14 sub-districts in Trenggalek, more than half are categorised as prone to landslides and floods. The condition is worrying because the areas affected by the disaster are included in the gold mining concession of PT SMN, including Munjungan, Watulimo, Kampak, Pule and Tugu.

PT SMN’s concession is in a forest area that includes protected forests, water catchment areas, springs, and rivers. The mining license area is also in the cave nature conservation area, waterfall nature conservation, mountain nature conservation, and protected geological area. These are areas prone to disasters, landslides and floods.

PT SMN is a mining company majority-owned by Australian firm Fas East Gold (FEG). The mining license owned by PT FEG covers 12,833.57 hectares, or nearly 10 per cent of the Trenggalek district’s 126,140 hectares. The gold mining license covers nine sub-districts out of 14 sub-districts in Trenggalek. Alliance spokesperson Trigus Dodik Susilo said the mining company PT SMN had conducted exploration drilling at 18 drilling points in May 2016. The core area of the gold mining plan is located in Karangrejo and Ngadimulyo Villages, Kampak District. Most of the concession area is in the form of protected areas, residential areas, and karst ecosystems at an altitude of 400 to 500 meters above sea level.

The current Regent of Trenggalek, Mochamad Nur Arifin, said that if the karsts and protected areas are cleared, and hundreds of hectares of land are excavated, one can imagine what will happen if extreme rains return. Trenggalek will sink.

PT SMN’s entry into Trenggalek began with the Decree of the Regent of Trenggalek regarding the Mining and Exploration Authorisation Letter for Gold and its Follower Minerals on 28 December 2005. PT SMN has also approved a Mining Business License for gold exploration and its follower minerals according to the regent’s decision on 2 November 2009. However, the current Regent of Trenggalek, Mochamad Nur Arifin, recently stated that the granting of the gold mining license contradicts the Regional Regulation on the Spatial and Regional Plan of Trenggalek. This regulation was established in 2012 and is valid until 2032.

Mochamad Nur Arifin has written to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources three times to revoke PT SMN’s license. He sent his first letter in May last year. Because the ministry gave PT SMN the green light, he wrote to the ministry again in February. The ministry replied to this letter stating that the exploitation permit had gone through various studies. He did not give up. He wrote another letter to the ministry on 9 August.

The Trenggalek People’s Alliance urged the Central Government to revoke PT SMN’s gold mining business license immediately. They delivered their request to the Office of the Directorate General of Mineral and Coal in Tebet and the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning / National Land Agency in Kebayoran Baru. A visit to the Office of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Senayan and the Office of Energy and Mineral Resources in Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan, Jakarta, was also planned.

Executive Director of WALHI East Java, Wahyu Eka Setyawan, stated that the gold mine would destroy the karst area of Trenggalek. Hundreds of springs in the concession area will disappear. The destruction of the karst area will trigger a food crisis and social-ecological refugees.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Trenggalek (-8.012920594155188, 111.7232654825071)
administrative region: Indonesia, East Java Province, Trenggalek Regency, Trenggalek District
total number of victims: hundreds
period of incident: 08.10.2022-17.10.2022
perpetrator: company, government
perpetrator details: PT Sumber Mineral Nusantara
Issues: right to food, right to adequate housing, environment, safe environment
Sources: Further HRM News:

NumberName, Details  GenderAgeGroup Affiliation  Violation  
hundredsunknownmixedunknownunknownsafe environment, food, housing