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Dairi Lead-Zinc Project in Sumatra, Indonesia

Dairi Prima Mineral is planning to build an underground mine to extract zinc, lead and silver ore that will create millions of cubic meters of toxic tailings in one of the world’s highest earthquake risk zones in Sumatra.


In the tropical forests in the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia, the proposal of a Lead-zinc dam threatens the environment and the lives of indigenous peoples [2]. The project is to take place in the mountain areas considered to be the most seismically dangerous on Earth and an area of heavy tropical rain that could cause a dam rupture.  

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Dairi Lead-Zinc Project in Sumatra, Indonesia
State or province:Sumatra
Location of conflict:Kabupaten Dairi
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Zinc
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The concession area contains approximately 5% of the world’s zinc reserves. The project dates from 1998, when Dairi Prima Mineral received permission from the Indonesian government to explore for metals in a 27,420-hectare area. The project is expected to cost $453 million. Mining is anticipated to begin 42 months after all of the finance and insurance is secured. According to a 2019 draft Environmental Impact Assessment Addendum, the mine life will be 10 years.

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Project area:24,636 ha
Level of Investment:$632 million contract
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/2017
Company names or state enterprises:China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co. (NFC) from China - owner
Bumi Resources from Indonesia - owner
Dairi Prima Mineral (DPM) - operator
Relevant government actors:Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry;
International and Finance InstitutionsPostal Savings Bank of China from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-BAKUMSU-
-Inclusive Development International
-Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Indigenous Pakpak and Toba people; scientists: lawyers;
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
The communities are calling for the IFC and Postal Savings Bank to use their leverage to get proper information about the mine, which is in the early stages of development.
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil erosion, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsPotential: High risk of a catastrophic tailings dam failure following earthquake or storm events
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other Health impacts
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:The main goal of the community is the cancellation of the project because it does not meet international environmental and safety standards and is in a location where virtually no mine could.

Furthermore, they aim at continuing with projects of sustainable agriculture. Which, are at risk, because of the mine.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:It is too early to know if the project will take place or not. It is positive, however, that participation and mobilisations against are becoming stronger.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[5] Pernyataan Rinawati Sinaga (Perwakilan Masyarakat) | Konferesi Pers Tolak Tambang PT DPM
[click to view]

[7] Dam threatens endangered species of Orangutan
[click to view]

[8] Why large mining projects can sweep Indonesia's villages? by Bakumsu March 2021
[click to view]

[10] Indonesian communities seek world bank mediation against Chinese owned zinc mine by China Dialogue March 2021
[click to view]

[9]Complaints are filed against the Indonesian mine by Bakumsu
[click to view]

[1]China's NFC Contracts to Construct Dairi Lead-zinc Project in Indonesia
[click to view]

[2] Why a Big Mining Project Could Wipe Out Rural Villages in Indonesia
[click to view]

[3]Indonesia: Preventing The Looming Dairi Prima Mineral Mine Disaster
[click to view]

[4] Communities call on the Indonesian government to reject dangerous mine in North Sumatra
[click to view]

[12] Following the Money Behind the Dairi Prima Mineral Zinc and Lead Mine in North Sumatra, Indonesia
[click to view]

[11] Warga Kirim Surat ke Komisi II DPR Tolak Tambang Dairi Prima Mineral di Zona Gempa
[click to view]

[6] Forest clearing proceeds for dam in Sumatra despite locals’ land claims By Mongabay 2020
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rommana De Paiva , [email protected]
Last update16/10/2021
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