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Sand iron mining in Kulonprogo, Java, Indonesia

The "black gold" mining, iron sand mine in Yogyakarta, along the Southern Java coast. A network of peasants and farmers, the PPLP, struggled successfully against sand land dispossession.


Kulon Progo’s iron sand mining project, a joint venture between Australia’s Indo Mines Limited and Indonesia’s Jogja Magasa Mining, began in 2007 on a sliver of land owned by the Sultan of Yogyakarta. But many local residents opposed this first pilot phase of the project. Their concern, said Suparlan, the director of the Yogyakarta office of Walhi, an environmental NGO, is that extracting iron from the beach’s sand could weaken the barrier against salt intrusion from the ocean into coastal farms. The mining venture proposed expanding its operation to cover a 1.8km by 22km area. The area is currently home to some 20,000 people. Residents of Kulon Progo refused to discuss land sales with either the government or mining conglomerate. “I want to return to being a farmer and to feeding my family, but I will continue to oppose the mine project,” said Tukijo, 47, speaking from the main prison in Yogyakarta City, in central Java, Indonesia. (6) Tukijo was given a three-year jail sentence in March 2012, after allegedly abducting an employee of a mining company - a charge he denied. His arrest came after several years of escalating opposition by residents of Kulon Progo to a project to mine iron deposits in the sand beneath their farms. “We want to preserve our environment, and we want to exercise our right as citizens to stay on our land,” he said. He and other community members say he was jailed in an effort to silence the community’s opposition.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sand iron mining in Kulonprogo, Java, Indonesia
State or province:Yogyakarta, Java
Location of conflict:Kulonprogo
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Sand, gravel
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

On 4 November 2008, Reuters reported that Indonesia had signed a $1.1 billion contract for an iron sand and pig iron mining project (1), the first mining contract to be awarded in the resources-rich country in a decade due to confusion over the mining law. Energy and Mines Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said PT Jogja Magasa Iron, an Indonesian firm in which Australian miner Indo Mines Ltd (IDO.AX) has a 70 percent share, would start mining iron sand and set up Indonesia’s first pig iron smelter in central Java’s Yogyakarta province. The $1.1 billion investment includes a 350-megawatt power plant and a port facility. [9]. Indomine Ltd would hold 70% of share capital, while Jogja Magasa Iron Ltd owned the rest of 30%.

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Project area:4,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project600,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:120,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2008
Company names or state enterprises:Jogja Magasa Iron Ltd from Indonesia
Indomine Ltd from Australia
Relevant government actors:Yogyakarta Governor and Sultan of Yogyakarta
International and Finance InstitutionsAsian Development Bank (ADB)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Paguyaban Petani Lahan Pantai, Union of Coastal Peasants (PPLP ) (also known as Association of Kulonprogo Coastal Field Farmers)
Forum Komunikasi Masyarakat Agraris (Forum for Communication between Agrarian Communities)
JATAM (a mining watch organization)
Kulon Progo Solidarity Network
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts, Soil erosion
Other Environmental impactsThreats to dunes. Erosion of the coastline.
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:They stopped their operation for sand mining for iron ores. In 2017 there is a new project for an international airport in the same area.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Yogyakarta Local Regulation No 2/2010, on Spatial and Zone Planning (Rencana Tata Ruang Wilayah)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Dian Yanuardy. 2012. Commoning, Dispossession Projects and Resistance: A Land Dispossession Project for Sand Iron Mining in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. International Land Coalition.
[click to view]

[2] Investor Presentation Jogjakarta Iron Sands Project

[3] Extensive Chronology: Thousands of Kulon Progo Farmers Resist Corporate Evil, Fighting the Police (25/10/2005)
[click to view]

[4] Inside Indonesia, The Sultan of development?

Written by Cally Colbron - Feb 08, 2016
[click to view]

[7] Article in Jakarta Globe, 2013, on the Chili Festival
[click to view]

[9]Indonesia signs contract for $1.1 bln iron sand project. Reuters Staff. 4 Nov. 2008.
[click to view]

Indonesia: The Battle for Bugel's Sand Treasures (2011)
[click to view]

Iron sand mining conflict (ppt)
[click to view]

Peasants say no to iron sand mining, The Jakarta Post, 11 July 2012
[click to view]

Konflik Progo Memanas, Ini Pemicunya. 3 Ag 2017
[click to view]

Warga Siap Layangkan Gugatan ke PTUN. 9 Ag 2017
[click to view]

Penambangan Progo Langgar Batas Konsesi, Surat Peringatan Dilayangkan. 6 Ag 2017
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[click to view]

[6] Java residents protest iron mine, 18 April 2013
[click to view]

[8] JATAM's Press Release, 23 October 2009
[click to view]

Kulon Progo: Tukijo, the farmer and activist who was jailed for 2,5 years in Jogjakarta is free (Indonesia). October 3th, 2013.
[click to view]

Kulon Progo Self-organised Struggle Against Neoliberal Megaproject (Indonesia)
[click to view]

Other comments:An academic study f the case (1) from 2012, summarizes it as follows: " Recent years have seen ambitious plans for sand iron mining projects in many coastal areas in Indonesia. In Yogyakarta, some coastal areas included in these plans have for decades been occupied and made cultivable by peasants, in a process of
‘commoning’ in De Angelis’ term (2003). The peasants consolidated coastal land, distributed it equally amongst them, created their own irrigation technology and farming techniques with low external input sustainable agriculture, and created a local auction system as a ‘fair trade market mechanism’. But, as indicated by many
scholars, the processes of producing and managing the commons are always challenged by the imperative and dynamic of capital to accumulate and find new frontiers.This paper then outlines how the sand mining project was planned and legitimized, with particular attention to the Sultan of Yogyakarta’s interlocking roles as provincial governor, feudal king and patron, and businessman. Finally, this research will also reveal the peasants’ counter movement against that land dispossession".
Meta information
Contributor:SM and JMA (ICTA-UAB)
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2943
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