For centuries, the indigenous Dayak peoples of Indonesian Borneo lived from the abundant forests and rivers that blanketed the region. Recently, BHP Billiton planned to build a series of massive coal mines that would destroy primary rainforest, deprive indigenous peoples of their customary land, and pollute water sources relied on by up to 1 million people. Then in 2016 BHP Billiton sold part of the project to the Indonesian Adaro company. This coal would be for steel making, and for thermal power plants for electricity.  Indonesia’s National Energy Policy (Kebijakan Energi Nasional) anticipates coal comprising 30% of the country’s energy mix by 2025 . Plans are afoot for 35,000 MW of new power stations in the country by 2019, including at least 20,000 MW from coal power alone. Coal deposits are concentrated in Kalimantan’s forested interior, areas inhabited by indigenous Dayak communities. . The formalization of property regimes under Dutch colonial rule extinguished local claims to resources, and concentrated authority for licensing mineral extraction within a centralized state.
In doing so, and by awarding exclusive resource rights to elites, it introduced a problematic interpretation of ‘legality’ that continues to persists in Indonesian society. This pattern of appropriation and enclosure continued upon independence, with customary adat law remaining conditional on recognition from statutory authorities.  Following the violent military coup instigated by General Suharto in 1965, reforms to mining foreign investment law were introduced to encourage extractive industries. The Suharto’s ‘New Order’ regime (1966–98) was marked by a high degree of cronyism, with lucrative resource concessions for logging and mining granted to individuals connected with the ruling family . In the post-Suharto Reform era local authorities were endowed with the power to issue mining permits, multiplying clientelist patronage networks in which material resources were disbursed by state representatives in exchange for political support.
This phenomenon has been well documented in Kalimantan, where some coal companies have financed political candidates in elections in the expectation that they would be rewarded with mining concessions. In several coal mining regions in East and Central Kalimantan, dust along hauling roads and pollution to river systems have been cited as some of the most immediate concerns by villagers in concession areas, and affected residents have engaged in various strategies to protest the effects of mining on their livelihood practices and wellbeing; environmental organizations such as JATAM and WALHI have increasingly been focused on documenting impacts and working with villages to conduct scientific assessments .
In 2013, BHP Billiton was asked why it was pursuing the IndoMet project in Indonesia. . The company stated: "What we have done is TO progress a small project at Haju that is not yet operational and will not produce any coal this calendar year. This included the development of road works, loading facilities, employee accommodation and other preparatory works for a small mine." The company was also asked what its relationship was to a proposed coal railway project in central Kalimantan. The company stated "we are not progressing the investigation or development of rail facilities in central Kalimantan." In an opinion column Arie Rompas, the Executive Director of WALHI (Indonesian Forum for the Environment/Friends of the Earth Indonesia) Central Kalimantan Branch, wrote that: "Based on the potential of IndoMet alone, the Upper Barito Basin may be the largest coal deposit worldwide yet to be utilized, and the last frontier of global coal production ... We are extremely conscious of how these mines will affect our communities that have depended on forest and rivers systems like the Barito Basin for their livelihoods for generations. The heavily forested Upper Barito Basin is home to large populations of orangutans and potentially many other species yet unknown to science. These forests form a significant part of Borneo's mega-diverse and world-renowned forest ecosystems. Their value has been recognized and there is an internationally supported conservation agreement, the 'Heart of Borneo' initiative that aims protect them for their biodiversity and carbon sequestration potential. Yet, the IndoMet concessions are located within the Heart of Borneo area. If BHP continues with its plans for open cut mines it will be a disaster for my people and it will be a disaster for these fragile ecosystems. The Barito watershed is a home and source of life for thousands of traditional landowners. We simply can't afford to allow our rivers to be polluted and our forests cleared and see the profits go overseas. If the IndoMet project and others like it continue it will threaten our peoples' way of life." .
In January 2014 BHP Billiton stated  that "the focus for the project, at this stage, is developing the infrastructure, particularly the construction of roads and port loading facilities, and we continue to evaluate the potential for larger-scale developments in the region Protests have drawn attention to several problems, from experiences of adverse effects from coal mining in terms of contamination of soil, air and water and loss of access to land and forests. Between 2014 and 2016, several provincial government plans to develop railways to transport coal, with Chinese and Russian investors, have been heavily protested by WALHI and other organizations. The IndoMet project, while most of its area has not moved to production stages and therefore not yet produced heavily documented impacts, has provided a particularly large example of a contentious coal mining project in the region, encompassing seven coal mining concessions totaling 350,000 ha.
In East and Central Kalimantan. Initially managed as a joint venture between Australian mining company BHP Billiton and Indonesian firm PT Adaro (before BHP Billiton sold its shares in 2016 to Adaro), IndoMet exemplified the phenomenon of a vast megaproject with immense potential for social and economic transformations. The IndoMet project has already been implicated in a series of forced land sales dating back to 2004, when indigenous residents in Maruwei village were forced to accept token payments for their customary forest since they lacked formal title deeds. According to testimony from one member of the community : “We were forced to sell our land for Rp 100 [half a UK penny] per [square] meter. If we didn’t sell it, the police would arrest us. The land meant a lot to us because we inherited it from our ancestors, and actually it had already generated a lot of money for us” (quoted in Jakarta Post, 20 May 2014). Despite coal concessions intersecting with biodiverse forests designated as the ‘Heart of Borneo’ conservation zone by the World Wildlife Federation, unresolved issues around forest tenure have exacerbated local grievances. The criminalization of local inhabitants’ resource claims and livelihoods has been a recurrent issue in the region, and NGOs such as WALHI have sought to draw attention to the failure of the government to formally respect the land use practices of local inhabitants in the area encompassing the IndoMet concession. NGOs have protested how company representatives reported residents to the police for rice farming and practicing shifting cultivation, deemed a proscribed activity under the Forestry Law. Concerns have been raised that IndoMet project has proceeded to undertake mining activity while interpreting its Contract of Work licence as if it were a land title. The local Dayak Misik people defend customary land rights, against land grabbing.