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Deaths of Six Miners Highlight Unsafe Mining Practices in Indonesia

September 1, 2020, 12.23 AM

PANGKALPINANG, – Six tin miners died in a landslide on August 29 in the province of Bangka Belitung, bringing Indonesia's tin mining death toll this year to 16 and sparking renewed calls to correct unsafe industry practices.

The six miners were buried in a landslide as they were mining for tin at a depth of 12 meters. Search and rescue teams recovered their remains the following day.

The tragedy prompted nongovernmental organization Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) to speak out about mining practices in Bangka Belitung.

“State-owned and private mining corporations are responsible for the death [of the miners]. Their demise is caused by human rights violations that plague the tin mining industry,” Walhi executive director Jessix Amundian told

“Deaths from unsafe conditions and environmentally hazardous mining practices are both sides of the same coin.”

Also read: Indonesia's Energy Firm PT Pertamina Posts Net Loss of $767.M in H1 2020

Jessix noted that 16 miners, at least one of whom was a minor, have died mining for tin between January and August 2020.

“Forty miners have died [in mining accidents] between 2017 and 2019. The fact that these deaths continue to occur reflects the poor management of tin mining [in Bangka Belitung].”

Jessix also deplored the disregard for these statistics and the lax enforcement of environmental audits and mining practices.

She called for the mining corporations that sponsored the mining, processing and sale of tin to be accountable for their actions, which are motivated by economic gain without regard for the environment or public safety.

Also read: Indonesia's Pertamina Ready to Scrap Low Octane Fuels Production 

Walhi noted that 611 mining companies control 1,261,316 hectares out of Bangka Belitung’s 1,642,423 hectares of land, 68 percent of which are controlled by large corporations.

The NGO estimated that Bangka Belitung lost more than 320,000 hectares of arable land and forests to mining over the past 10 years. They noted that deforestation for mines has left the province vulnerable to floods, drought and other natural disasters.

Bangka Belitung has been known for its abundant tin reserves even before Indonesia's independence in 1945. 

(Writer: Heru Dahnur | Editors: Abba Gabrillin, Khairina)


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