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Islanders resisting nickel mining permits, Wawonii, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia

Since 2007, the Wawonii residents have resisted large-scale industrial mining on the island. Protests have been violent and met by police repression. Some permits have been revoked.


Wawonii is an island of about 867 square km, located off the south-eastern coast of Sulawesi. The island was earlier part of Konawe Regency but belongs to the new Konawe Kepulauan (Konkep) Regency since 2013. Back in 2007, the Konawe Regent issued a business mining permit (IUP) to the company PT DBM, which included four villages on the island. Although the concession included residential areas and ancestral lands, the residents were not included in the decision-making process, which sparked conflict [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Islanders resisting nickel mining permits, Wawonii, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia
State or province:Southeast Sulawesi
Location of conflict:Wawonii Island
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Nickel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

There are currently 6 active nickel mining permits on the island.

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:30,000 aprox
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:PT Kharisman Kreasi Abadi
IgawaraIgawara Industrial Services and Trading PTE Ltd from Singapore
PT Alatoma Karya
PT Bumi Konawe Mining
PT Derawan Berjaya Mining
PT Gema Kreasi Perdana
PT Kimco Citra Mandiri
PT Konawe Bakti Pratama
PT Hasta Karya Megacipta
PT Pasir Berjaya Mining
PT Cipta Puri Sejahtera
PT Natanya Mitra Energy
PT Investa Pratama Inti Karya
Relevant government actors:Konawe Kepulauan (Konkep) Regency
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA)
- Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi)
- Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS)
- Indonesian Farmers Alliance (API)
- Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam)
- The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA)
- Bina Desa (Bindes)
- Participatory Mapping Networking (JKPP)
- Institute of Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM)
- Public Interest Lawyer Network (PILNET)
- Commission for “the Disappeared” and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
- Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN)
- Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS),
- Islamic Student Association (HMI)
- Indonesian National Student Movement (GMNI)
- Wawonii Student and Community Association (PMMW)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Global warming, Oil spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Militarization and increased police presence, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:The common ambition of the involved EJOs, residents and recently also the local government, is to get all mining permits on the island revoked in line with the Coastal and Small Islands Law.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Despite many years of protest, not all permits have been canceled and there is no promise of new permits not being granted. However, 9 permits were revoked tanks to continuous mobilization and resistance by the islanders.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Decree number 63/2007

Environmental Protection and Management Law No. 32/2009

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Mongabay (2019e). Indonesian villagers fighting planned mine garner national support.
[click to view]

[1] Mongabay (2015). Dari Pulau Wawonii: Lahan Warga Terampas Tambang, Protes, Berbuah Aniaya dan Penangkapan.
[click to view]

[2] Mongabay (2019a). Demo tuntut Pemerintah Sulta Cabut Izin Tambang di Wawonii, Warga Alami Kekerasan Aparat.
[click to view]

[3] Mongabay (2019b). On an island coveted by miners, villagers prepare to raise a ruckus.
[click to view]

[4] Mongabay (2018). Warga, DPRD dan Pemerintah Konawe Kepulauan Tolak Tambang, Bagaimana Sikap Gubernur?
[click to view]

[5] Mongabay (2019c). An island mapped for mines gets a reprieve after violent protests.
[click to view]

[6] Mongabay (2019d). Demo Tuntut Pemerintah Sultra Cabut Izin Tambang di Wawonii, Warga Alami Kekerasan Aparat.
[click to view]

[7] DetikSultra (2019). Ali Mazi Ogah Cabut IUP di Konkep.
[click to view]

Mongabay (2019f). Gubernur Sultra Cabut 9 Izin Tambang di Wawonii, Bekukan 6 Lainnya.
[click to view]

Asia Times (2019). Mining permits revoked after Wawonii protests.
[click to view]

Humanitarian News (2019). Watchdog denounces arrests of four anti-mining activists in Indonesia.
[click to view]

ChinaDialogue (2019). Nickel mining resisted in Indonesia. Hans Nicholas Jong. 12.12.2019. A looming export ban on raw nickel has prompted a wave of Chinese investment in nickel smelters, prompting local resistance.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

On Twitter: The #savewawonii campaign.
[click to view]

Police armed with batons beat and kick an unarmed, screaming man protesting mining in Wawonii in Southeast Sulawesi Tuesday.

from a journalist there (@ianjmorse 7 March 2019 twitter)
[click to view]

Mongabay (2019). Indonesian communities protest mining. Mongabay.
[click to view]

Kasus Tambang Wawonii: Polisi Cenderung Membela Investor daripada Rakyat
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A woman, Marwah, yelling at an excavator belonging to PT Gema Kreasi Perdana (GKP), which is plowing over her land
[click to view]

Other documents

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay. Lukman Abunawas, the deputy governor of Southeast Sulawesi, addresses the protesters on March 13. 2019
[click to view]

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay. Students stage a mock burial to express their opposition to mining in Wawonii.
[click to view]

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay. A woman faces the police at one of the protests in Kendari.
[click to view]

Image by Fajar A. Sidik. A graphic being used to promote the #SaveWawonii campaign against mining on the island.
[click to view]

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Last update11/01/2020
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