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Sand iron mining in Kulonprogo, Java, Indonesia


Description:

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.

By 2017 there is a new struggle in the area, against a new airport. The struggle against New Yogyakarta international airport (NYIA) is connected to the previous struggle of peasants in Kulon Progo against iron mining in which they won the struggle, not through legal means but through community grassroots struggle (riots, arrests, and massive international solidarity) that goes beyond the language of the state. 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 could 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 was 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. (6)   JATAM already condemned in 2009 the violence at the proposed Australian-owned iron mine; calling for the protection of Kulon Progo's people and coastal ecosystem. In a Press release on 23 October 2009, it said (8): “… on October 20, 2009, police brutality towards the people of Kulon Progo of Central Java for protesting against the Australian mining company PT Jogja Mangasa Iron, left 41 people injured. What happened that day is one of many examples of how the government has put foreign investor interests above the local communities' interests. The Kulon Progo communities rely on agriculture as their livelihood. On October 20, 2009, thousands of people from Kulon Progo marched to the local Kulon Progo government office to voice their resistance to mining in their area. They refused the public consultation offered by the company and said no to any plans to mine in their community. The community members view consultation as a strategy to legitimize mining in their community. PT JMI received their controversial Contract of Work on November 4, 2008, at a time when the Parliament was drafting the new Mining and Coal Act. While strongly criticizing the Contract of Work regime of the old Law No. 11/1967, the government was granting a permit to mine to PT JMI. They received a Contract of Work one month before the new Act was passed. Indo Mine Ltd. from Australia holds 70% of PT JMI's shares. The extraction of iron puts the livelihoods of 123,601 local farmers and fishers at risk.”(8). JATAM added that the PT JMI plans also threaten massive erosion along the coast of Kulon Progo in the Indian Ocean. Damaged ecosystems will not be able to stop the strong currents and sea winds from eroding the coast line. The site is also prone to earthquakes and a potential tsunami. The proposed mine threatens a unique ecosystem and would move sand dunes in Kulon Progo which also serve as a migration corridor of migratory birds. Dr. Dja'far Shiddieq, soil expert from Gadjah Mada University, mentioned that the sand dunes of southern Jogjakarta, including Kulon Progo's, are one of only three moving sand dunes in the world. (8). JATAM wrote, “protests against the mine have been held by local communities many times but the local government continues to insist that mining would increase the welfare of the people. However, no large-scale mining operation in Indonesia has ever proven to enhance the welfare of local people”. (8). 

On the cultural side, the vocabulary of resistance included a Chili Festival against sand iron mining. In 2013 (7) the dangdut music gave way to a succession of speeches; some by PPLP-KP leaders like Supriyanti and Widodo and others from supporters of the organization such as UGM Professor of Agriculture Ja’far Sidiq. Excoriating the environmental and social consequences of mining the region for iron, the orators “called for a renewed spirit of struggle.” Around 12:30 p.m. the crowd was invited to walk together in procession to a chili field just 50 meters or so further south toward the coast. There, the three speakers joined together in a symbolic “first picking.” With clenched fists overflowing with freshly plucked red and ripe chilis, they voiced the hope that the land’s new-found fertility be preserved, sustained, and safeguarded for future generations. As Widodo explained in a recent interview, “the most important focus for us is to maintain our livelihood — planting and harvesting. Because if we leave it, we are not farmers anymore, and we lose our identity.” (7). The 2013 Chili Harvest festival in Gapongan thus aims to underline that in the dispute over future ownership and use of the Kulon Progo lands, nothing less than a way of life is at stake. The chili, while epitomizing new prosperity, also symbolizes steadfast commitment to a lifestyle under existential threat. The event seeks to remind what exactly is being fought over. Planting in Kulon Progo is an act of resistance. But the 2013 Chili Harvest reminds that it is also a declaration of identity. While affirming a collective identity and celebrating a shared renaissance — one driven by local innovation — it is no coincidence that the first Chili Harvest festival coincided with public disclosure of the proposed mine eight years ago (2005). As Widodo reflected, “resistance is not just about confrontation. However, when that kind of direct action is needed, we are always ready.” (7)

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Sand iron mining in Kulonprogo, Java, Indonesia
Country: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:Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Wetlands and coastal zone management
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%.

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:4,000
Level of Investment:600,000,000
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

Impacts

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

Outcome

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

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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

[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.
https://www.academia.edu/12288247/Commoning_Dispossession_Project_and_Resistance_A_Land_Dispossession_Project_for_Sand_Iron_Mining_in_Yogyakarta_Indonesia?auto=download

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Indonesia: The Battle for Bugel's Sand Treasures (2011)
http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=10981

[3] Extensive Chronology: Thousands of Kulon Progo Farmers Resist Corporate Evil, Fighting the Police (25/10/2005)
http://www.anarchistnews.org/content/extensive-chronology-thousands-kulon-progo-farmers-resist-corporate-evil-fighting-police

Iron sand mining conflict (ppt)
https://www.slideshare.net/19_11/konflik-pasir-besi-kulonprogo

Peasants say no to iron sand mining, The Jakarta Post, 11 July 2012
http://www.pressreader.com/indonesia/the-jakarta-post/20120711/281629597377494

[4] Inside Indonesia, The Sultan of development?

Written by Cally Colbron - Feb 08, 2016
http://www.insideindonesia.org/the-sultan-of-development

[7] Article in Jakarta Globe, 2013, on the Chili Festival
http://jakartaglobe.id/features/identity-and-resistance-in-yogyakarta-chili-farmers/ (7) Jakarta Globe, 2013.

Konflik Progo Memanas, Ini Pemicunya. 3 Ag 2017
http://www.harianjogja.com/baca/2017/08/03/tambang-bantul-konflik-progo-memanas-ini-pemicunya-839585

[9]Indonesia signs contract for $1.1 bln iron sand project. Reuters Staff. 4 Nov. 2008.
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-samsung-lee-appeal-idUSKCN1B805U

Warga Siap Layangkan Gugatan ke PTUN. 9 Ag 2017
http://www.harianjogja.com/baca/2017/08/09/tambang-bantul-warga-siap-layangkan-gugatan-ke-ptun-841507

Penambangan Progo Langgar Batas Konsesi, Surat Peringatan Dilayangkan. 6 Ag 2017
http://www.harianjogja.com/baca/2017/08/06/tambang-bantul-penambangan-progo-langgar-batas-konsesi-surat-peringatan-dilayangkan-840471

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Kulon Progo: Tukijo, the farmer and activist who was jailed for 2,5 years in Jogjakarta is free (Indonesia). October 3th, 2013. http://325.nostate.net
http://325.nostate.net/tag/tukijo/

[8] JATAM's Press Release, 23 October 2009
http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9631

[5] A TALE OF SAND: A HIDDEN ECOLOGICAL STRUGGLE IN YOGYAKARTA. 15 June 2011. By Reyhard Matheos
https://latitudes.nu/a-tale-of-sand-a-hidden-story-of-ecological-struggle-in-yogyakarta/

[6] Java residents protest iron mine, 18 April 2013
https://www.irinnews.org/fr/node/253414

Kulon Progo Self-organised Struggle Against Neoliberal Megaproject (Indonesia)
https://325.nostate.net/2011/02/15/kulon-progo-self-organised-struggle-against-neoliberal-megaproject-indonesia/

Other documents

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".
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Indo_Mines_Bugel_Indonesia_iron_sands.jpg

Source: Reyhard Matheos Farmer protest: What does the country eat without farmers?
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/kulon.gif

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 update13/01/2018

Images

 

Source: Reyhard Matheos

Farmer protest: What does the country eat without farmers?

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.