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Indonesian coal mining firm gets its license reinstated despite a history of violations

first_imgArticle published by Isabel Esterman Coal, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Energy, Environment, Environmental Law, Environmental Politics, Law Enforcement, Mining, Rainforest Mining The governor of Indonesia’s South Sumatra province revoked PT Batubara Lahat’s coal mining license after the company was found to owe the government more than $2 million.On June 8, an administrative court overturned the governor’s decision.Nationwide, more than 2,100 mining licenses have been revoked or not been renewed following investigations into their legality, resulting in multiple lawsuits.Activists fear this verdict could have wider repercussions. As Indonesia proceeds with its campaign to stamp out illegality in the palm oil and mining sectors, canceling thousands of permits nationwide, a Sumatran court has restored a coal company’s license after the governor revoked it.Activists fear the verdict could set a precedent for similar cases.The company, PT Batubara Lahat, had its license to mine coal withdrawn by the South Sumatra governor in November 2016, after the mining firm was found to owe the government more than 27 billion rupiah (~$2 million) in royalties and other non-tax obligations.On June 8, the Palembang State Administrative Court annulled that decision, reinstating the company’s Mining Business License (IUP).Rabin Ibnu Zainal, director of Pilar Nusantara, an NGO monitoring coal mining in South Sumatra, told Mongabay-Indonesia his organization had not yet received a copy of the court’s verdict. However, he said, the court gave two justifications for overturning the governor’s decree. First, the court reasoned that the Audit Board of Indonesia — part of the central government — is responsible for calculating royalties and non-tax revenues owed by coal companies. Thus, the court decided, revocation of permits on grounds of delinquent payments should be carried out by Jakarta rather than regional officials.Second, Zainal said, the court reasoned that if the company’s mining license were revoked, it would be difficult to collect its unpaid debts.Zainal said he was shocked by PT Batubara Lahat’s victory in court. “We are also getting news that the South Sumatra government will appeal the decision,” he added.In the meantime, however, activists fear this verdict could embolden other companies whose licenses have been challenged or revoked by local authorities.The landscape of Sehile, in South Sumatra’s Lahat Regency. Once forest and smallholder plantations, the area is now scarred by the remains of a former coal mine. Photo by Anwar Fachrudin courtesy of INFIS.Cleaning up the mining sectorIndonesia’s 2009 Mining Law gave local governments the right to issue mining licenses, prompting an explosion in the number of permits granted. By 2014, numerous reports by civil society groups had detailed corruption, legal violations and environmental and social damage connected to these licenses, prompting the KPK, Indonesia’s anti-graft agency, to mount an investigation into the sector. In cooperation with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the KPK set out to examine the legality of mining permits in 12 provinces.This investigation revealed that around 40 percent of the 10,992 licenses issued in these provinces were not “clean and clear” — meaning they failed to meet all legal requirements, including registration to pay taxes, land rents and other royalties.In South Sumatra, the ratio was found to be even worse. Out of 359 IUPs issued by the South Sumatra government, the KPK considered only 175 to be suitable for operation. Thirty-one companies granted permits were found to have no taxpayer identification number. Additionally, out of 241 companies that were paying taxes, only 18 reported the basis for their tax calculations.By April 2017, more than 2,100 mining permits nationwide had been revoked or left to expire without being renewed.In South Sumatra, the government revoked 34 licenses and did not renew an additional 43.Eight of these mining companies, including PT Batubara Lahat, have sued either the South Sumatra governor or the head of energy and mineral resources for South Sumatra, claiming these local authorities acted arbitrarily. So far, only PT Batubara Lahat has prevailed in court.Coal mining operations in South Sumatra, and elsewhere in Indonesia, frequently leave behind open pits. Without proper reclamation, former mines like this quickly turn into dangerous water-filled pits. Photo by Anwar Fachrudin courtesy of INFIS.Setting a precedentZainal predicted that PT Batubara Lahat’s victory will step-up resistance efforts by coal mining companies. “We hope these other verdicts are not like PT Batubara Lahat’s. Coal companies operating in Indonesia, especially in South Sumatra, must operate correctly, not only not damaging the environment but also not harming the state,” he said.As of last month, coal companies owed the Indonesian government more than 5 trillion rupiah ($380 million), meaning the public has been denied its fair share of the wealth gained through mining while being left to deal with the social and environmental fall-out. Poorly regulated mining operations have left villages across the archipelago to face problems ranging from polluted waterways to deadly abandoned mining pits in which at least 27 people have drowned.Meanwhile, actions in other regions demonstrate just how high the stakes are when it comes to legal conflicts between mining companies and local governments. An evaluation team chaired by the East Kalimantan provincial secretary ruled on June 6 that 809 mining licenses should be revoked in that province.However, a deadline for these revocations has not yet been confirmed, with local officials citing concerns that companies whose licenses are revoked will simply walk away from their mines, leaving behind unpaid debts and open mining pits — a concern that echoes the reasoning of the Palembang court in the PT Batubara Lahat case.This story was reported by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and was first published on our Indonesian site on June. 10, 2017.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img

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