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Lembeh Straits threatened

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A gold mine is being opened in Rinondoran Bay by a british based company just north of Lembeh Strait. The mine plans to dump it's cyanide waste - estimated to amount to 6-8 MILLION tons over 5 years - out to sea. The company says the waste will be dumped at 150 meters below the surface & settle in 800-1200 meters. I'd like to think that there's some good oceanographic selection behind the selection of the disposal site & that dumping operations will be carried out with the utmost care but I'm doubtful about the future of the region. Another example of multinational money overriding local concerns & viability.


Thanks to Stephen Clark for initially publishing the link on diver.net





Pollution disputes muddy waters in North Sulawesi


by Jakarta Post


5th December 2005


Pollution disputes muddy the waters in N. Sulawesi Tb. Arie Rukmantara, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta.


Alleged pollution in Buyat Bay has not been settled yet, but North Sulawesi has yet again become embroiled in an environmental dispute with a mining company.


A group of Rinondoran Bay residents are holding a week-long "road show" in Jakarta to protest the operations of British gold mining firm PT Meares Soputan Mining (MSM) on fears that it would pollute waters in the province.


"The company will dispose of their waste into the water. We're afraid it will threaten our health and our lives," said Hitsel Kasamu, one of the residents. Hitsel is the coordinator of the People's Alliance against Mining Waste.


About 10 Rinondoran Bay residents relayed their concerns to the National Commission on Human Rights, the House of Representatives, the Regional Representative Council, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Office of State Minister of Environment, the Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries and the British Embassy.


They claim to have received support from 10,000 residents who oppose the planned disposal method.


Hitsel said the residents have learned from the Buyat Bay case, which implicates U.S.-owned PT Newmont Minahasa Raya.


"The Newmont case shows that submarine tailing disposal (STD) will endanger our waters. Buyat people suffered illnesses that we are not familiar with. We don't want to follow suit," Hitsel said.


Rinondoran Bay is divided between North Minahasa regency and Bitung municipality. It is located some 200 kilometres from Buyat Bay.


The Anti-Mining Network (Jatam) estimated that MSM would dump 1.2 million to 1.7 million tons of waste onto the Rinondoran seabed.


"It would pile up six million to eight million tons of waste at the end of their five-year operation," Jatam coordinator Siti Maimunah said recently.


Ros Masedung, a resident of Batu Putih village in Bitung, said that most of some 36,000 people living around the bay were fishermen, who produced 4,000 to 5,000 tons of fish per month.


"If the waste pollutes the sea, I'm sure our catch will decrease and fishermen will lose their jobs," she said.


She also warned that mining waste would harm the rich biodiversity of Lembeh Strait, which has 25 diving sites.


A diving website says that the collection of fish at the strait include Ambon scorpion fish (Pteroidichthys amboinensis), stonefish, sea robins, stargazers, devil fish and even the weedy scorpionfish (Rhinopias frondosa), as well as at least seven different species of seahorses, pegasus, ghost pipefish and the endemic Banggai cardinalfish.


State Minister of Environment Rachmat Witoelar cautiously responded to the case.


"We will carefully study the case. We'll find out whether there are alternatives for tailings disposal other than STD," he said.


At present, only PT Newmont Minahasa Raya and PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara have obtained permits to apply STD.


MSM director Peter Brown dismissed residents' fear, saying STD was the best solution his company could find to dispose of its cyanide waste.


"We have studied other options such as land tailings, but geographically it doesn't suit Rinondoran soil. Moreover, it will be more costly because we have to prepare enough land area to bury the waste," he said.


Brown said the waste would be dumped at 150 meters below the surface and would settle at 800 to 1,200 meters.


He said before the government decided anything, MSM would go on with the project.


"We have the contract that allows us to extract the site. So, in the meantime we don't see any reason why we have to stop doing what we are doing now," he said, adding that currently MSM was constructing the mining sites.


MSM is owned by British-based Archipelago Resources and Austindo, and have invested about US$300 million in the country. The firm controls over 741,000 hectares of mining concessions in North Minahasa and Bitung that is estimated to produce 162,000 ounces of gold every year.

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And of course the person to write to about this is:

Rachmat Witoelar

Minister of Environment Indonesia

Jl. D.I. Panjaitan, Kebon Nanas, Jakarta 13410


E-mail: menlh@go.id


They've already screwed up alot with the mining from Newmont. Hopefully we will have an effect on the outcome of this struggle, which btw has already started since that article was published.

I'm sure many photogs here on wetpixel have been to North Sulawesi and understand the beauty and uniqueness of the place. So I hope we can help sway the Indonesian government from basically poisonning the water we'd be diving in, killing off the sealife and even the divers health would be endangered.

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And of course the person to write to about this is:

Rachmat Witoelar

Minister of Environment Indonesia

Jl. D.I. Panjaitan, Kebon Nanas, Jakarta 13410


E-mail: menlh@go.id

email address is wrong; is there a typo?


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Opps here is the general one:


Tel/Fax. +62218517184


E-mail : edukom@menlh.go.id

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I know from my Gold Mine days that the cyanide/hydrochloric acid in that brown slurry caustic solution cocktail of waste is potient. Kills anything....


That's why I left, not very good for ones health.

Idiots... <_<

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<www.minesandcommunities.org> is a valuable source of articles concerning effects of mining. Doing a search for "gold north sulawesi" produces links to 57 articles which include information on the severe pollution already produced by various mining companies - including Newmount, Drew - and the fight against them.

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This is terrible news for the local communities around North Sulawesi and Lembeh Straits.

I did some cursory Google enquiries to find some information, which I have included below, either quoted or linked with their original sources.


A good article (translated from Bahase Indesia) is here :




The article has some maps and pictures.


The name of the game is "submarine tailings disposal (STD)".

So here we have another meaning for STD that too is pretty nasty and worth fighting ;-)


The article mentions the company "Archipelago Resources PLC".

Here's the connection:

The majority shareholder in PT MSM was the Australian company, Aurora Gold. ...

Bad management brought Aurora Gold to bankruptcy and PT IMK was bought by Strait Resources-Australia. Toka Tindung was purchased by UK-registered Archipelago Resources in February 2002.


It goes on to say, that

Archipelago is a small mining company with an address in England, whose shares are owned by Australian businessmen....


MBendi lists the UK-based address :


Archipelago Resources

Tel: +44 20 7332-2070

Office Address:

190 Strand



United Kingdom


At Yahoo! Finance an Australian address is given:


Archipelago Resources PLC


Contact Information

Address: 17 Strome Rd. Applecross, Perth 6153, Australia

Phone: +61-00-618-9364-8301

Fax: +61-00-618-9316-3819


Its activites are described thus:


Archipelago Resources is engaged in the exploration and production of gold and other base metals. The company's primary holding is an 85% interest in the Toka Tindung Gold project (acquired in 2002) located in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Toka Tindung is expected produce 160,000 ounces of gold annually once it begins production in 2006. It has an estimated resource of 1.75 million ounces of gold. Archipelago Resources also explores for gold in Vietnam and the Philippines. The UK-based investment firm Ocean Resources Capital holds a 33% stake in the company.



The key people are

Managing Director: J. Colin Loosemore

Finance Director: Barry J. Casson

So it seems that it's these people we need to write to.


Mr Loosemore seems to have a longstanding interest in mining. He founded the Elkedra company, was its chairman many years, but resigned from Elkedra on 8.6.2004 (receiving a huge final payoff).

Elkedra has confined its interests to diamond projects in Australia and Brazil.


After his resignation he presumably started up Archipelago.


Found this at FinanzNachrichten.de

Archipelago in May secured a 35 mln usd loan from NM Rothschild&Sons to finance the Indonesian project.

It seems banks never ask twice how business is conducted, as soon as it has a prospect of making money. With soaring gold prices, the prospects are very good indeed. So good in fact, that expired environmental permits may not be a good enough reason to stop this project.


Indonesia is THE most corrupt country I have ever been to (lived there for 2 years at one time). (Never been to Nigeria, apparently that's worse there).

KKN (Korrupsi, Kolusi, Nepotismi) a great invention when you want to get things done with no questions asked.


With so much money behind the Toka Tindung project, we should all book our Lembeh holidays now and takes lots of pictures for posterity.

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