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 . 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.
The mine is to be excavated in Bukit Barisan, an area covered by reserved forests were the indigenous tribes K abupaten Dairi, Sumatra U tare, and the Toba live since the beginning of the 20th Century. Indigenous people and local communities are asking for more information and transparency about the future risk.
Furthermore, the area is under land conflicts, it was recently put under State control, however, the locals that lived in the lands much before don't recognize the State's claim to the land. They also allege that the State is using it as a production forest .
The possibility of failure of the dam is very high say, specialists. The dam is estimated to contain millions of tons of mining waste and if dam failure occurs, it would drown the indigenous tribes living only some hundred meters away, and then all chemicals would be disposed of in the rivers. The complainants argued that the Indigenous communities downstream of the mine have not been adequately consulted about the project, much less provided their free, prior, and informed consent, consistent with IFC Performance Standard 7 . They also expressed their concerns about the environmental and social risks of the project, including the high risk of a catastrophic tailings dam failure.
In October 2020 the local people filled a complaint with the help of the US International Organization of Inclusive Development and BAKUMSU, an NGO. The communities demand the IFC and the Postal Savings Bank to use their leverage to get proper information about the impacts of the mine.
“If we are going to be potentially living around or down from a potential disaster, we deserve to be consulted and informed. “This mine could produce millions of cubic meters of toxic waste. We want know what they will do with it. We know tailings dams leak and can collapse. We know the DPM mine is at the top of a stream system and we are down from it. We don’t want to live under constant threat of tailings dam collapse” said Ms. Rainim Purba, a resident of the village involved in the complaint [9;11].
Another NGO supporting the conflict is the YDPK, they're helping and assisting the villagers to get information. The executive director of YDPK stated that they have requested information from the Ministry of Energy and the National Commission but obtained no reply .
The environmental impacts would be numerous, the activities executed in the areas of the dam contaminate the soil and the water supplies. Since the failure of the damage is almost sure to happen, it would consist in impactful contamination of the region, damaging a rich fauna, and flora and resulting in biodiversity loss. This ecosystem is the only known habitat of the critically endangered Topanuli Orangutan .