PT Bukit Asam (BA) told residents of Indragiri Hulu, Riau, not to worry about environmental damage as the publicly-listed coal miner sent its first shipment abroad this weekend.
Milawarma, the executive director of BA, said that the company had obtained a “green” assessment three times for its environmental management.
“That’s the highest recognition given by the government to companies committed to environmental preservation,” he said during a ceremony to see off its maiden coal shipment from Peranap mine site to India, China and Thailand.
“As a state enterprise listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange since 2002, PT BA has a strong commitment to comply with regulations. What we have done has borne fruit, with PT BA being recognized as one of the best among 400 companies at the stock exchange,” he said.
The company has also reserved money as a guarantee it would rehabilitate land when it was finished mining in the area. “The funds total Rp 240 billion for all PT BA’s operational sites, covering 96,000 hectares in four provinces. Rp 2 billion of that amount was allocated as a guarantee for the first phase of opening the Peranap mining site.”
The company said it would increase the guarantee as it expanded mining operations. “If we fail to fulfill our responsibility to rehabilitate the land, we will lose the funds. The government may disburse the funds to carry out its greenery programs and the company shall be in violation of the Environment Law.”
PT BA was granted a mining concession until 2015 for 18,230 hectares in Semelinang Tebing village in Peranap district, which holds coal deposit of 792 million tons.
Worries about ecological damage were raised by Peranap district head Ardiansyah Eka Putra. “People fear the environmental impact, especially after they learned from television reports about the impact on the
environment and the people at the end of mining operations,” he said.
Ardiansyah said he was anxious about the company’s commitment to preserve the environment and the welfare of local residents.
The company has provided electricity to households and scholarships to 50 students from poor families. Milawarma said 65 percent of the revenue from the firm’s operations would go to the state coffers, while the remainder would be earmarked for corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.
PT BA chief commissioner Patrialis Akbar, the former law and human rights minister, said that coal mining would accelerate development and increase residents’ income.
“PT BA is ready to help the children living close to the mining site as the students with as high academic facilities as possible,” Patrialis said.
Environmental damage from mining operations is a national concern. In Jambi, the local Energy and Mineral Resources Agency alleged that mining companies operating in Batanghari regency did not comply with work safety regulations.
“It’s not once or twice but often have we found companies neglected work safety,” Felio Rizon, the head of the agency in Batanghari, said.
Employees at the mining site did not have safety equipment, such as helmets or boots, Felio said. “The company must take heed.”
— Jon Afrizal contributed to reporting from Jambi