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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: May 8th 2003

:: Stop Submarine Tailings Deposition  

Some mining companies in the Asia-Pacific region continue to use submarine tailing deposition (STD), about which there are still serious doubts. Now, former environment minister Emil Salim has said Indonesia is unable to deal with the environmental hazards posed by STD. He was speaking at a five-day meeting of the World Bank Extractive Industries Review (EIR) in Nusa Dua, Bali.

At least 12 NGOs walked out of the meeting on April 28 after the EIR released a draft of the guidelines ahead of the meeting's conclusion. NGOs said the draft favoured mining companies at the expense of the environment and indigenous people.

Nevertheless, Mr Salim decried the continued use of STD. "Most companies or parties operating in Indonesia's mining industry use this system, which is clearly degrading the marine and coastal environment," he told EIR participants. Mr Salim said STD was seriously damaging Indonesia's tropical marine life, marine resources and its ecosystem. "The most important problem is how to convince our government to strictly regulate the system and to enforce the law because almost two-thirds of Indonesia consists of water and oceans," he said.

STD, which was debated in detail in Mining Environmental Management, September 2002, was one of the main subjects discussed at the World Bank-initiated meeting. The five-day meeting brought together stakeholders from civil society, governments, industry as well as the World Bank Group to discuss oil, gas and mining issues. The framework for this discussion is the globally agreed consensus to pave the way for sustainable development in the 21st century.

Benyamin Kahn, the director for APEX Environmental Indonesia Oceanic Cetacean Program, said that the agency's study found the majority of fish taken from waters around Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara and North Sulawesi were contaminated with mining disposal waste. "Japan has rejected fish exports because of chemical contamination," the study revealed.



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Igor O'Neill
Mineral Policy Institute, Australia
Tel: +62 81 286 12 286
Fax: 21 791 816 83

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