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
NameSand iron mining in Kulonprogo, Java, Indonesia
ProvinceYogyakarta, Java
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific CommoditiesSand, gravel
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsOn 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%.

The investment on sand iron mining was later projected at 500-600 million US dollars, to build iron sand mining industry-complexes, including four processing factories.

The iron sand deposit is estimated at 33.6 million tons, while the production was planned to be 500,000 tons/year.

Investor Presentation Jogjakarta Iron Sands Project "The deposit is similar to the iron sand deposits that have been mined and processed by Bluescope Steel in New Zealand over the last 30 years - it is anticipated that mining and down stream processing at Jogjakarta will be based on this same simple and proven technology"[2].

The farmers established an umbrella organization, which they named PPLP (Paguyaban Petani Lahan Pantai = Association of Shoreline Farmers). [5] The careful efforts of more than 40 years made the wasteland a fertile and productive zone. All sorts of plants can now thrive due to the hard work and care put into their cultivation. On the sand a range of horticultural crops can grow in both the rainy season and the dry season. Chilli, aubergine, bitter gourd, castor bean, green beans, rice, corn, watermelon and many other types of vegetables have been grown along the 25km stretch of shoreline; the hands of the farmers have turned the landscape green. The key to their success is collective knowledge. The case of the farmers’ resistance in Kulon Progo [5] is an authentic example of a struggle against power characterized by anti-politics, autonomy and self-management.
Project Area (in hectares)4,000
Level of Investment (in USD)600,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population120,000
Start Date01/01/2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesJogja Magasa Iron Ltd from Indonesia
Indomine Ltd from Australia
Relevant government actorsYogyakarta Governor and Sultan of Yogyakarta
International and Financial InstitutionsAsian Development Bank (ADB)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPaguyaban 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
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
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
OtherThreats to dunes. Erosion of the coastline.
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic 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 as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

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


[2] Investor Presentation Jogjakarta Iron Sands Project

[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]


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

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

[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]

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

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

Media Links

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]

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

[click to view]

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

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

Other Documents

Source: Reyhard Matheos Farmer protest: What does the country eat without farmers?
[click to view]

Source: Jakarta Globe Photo/Nivell Rayda Sumanto, secretary of the Kulonprogo Coastal Farmers Association (PPLP), walking past a sign in Bugel village that reads: ‘Reject the iron sand mine to the last drop of blood. For our grand children's sake".
[click to view]

Other CommentsAn 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
ContributorSM and JMA (ICTA-UAB)
Last update13/01/2018