Jakarta – The Padoe indigenous community that resides in the East Luwu Regency, South Sulawesi, remains apprehensive as the concession permit for a local nickel mining company continues to expand. Reports suggest their indigenous land plots are being claimed by the mining firm.
"We are aware that our region is being claimed by PT Vale Indonesia as there are stakes [common sign to signify land ownership]," said Ameria Sinta, a resident of the Pade community at her house on August 27.
According to official records, the nickel mining company has 70,566-hectare concession rights at the Luwu Regency.
Ameria claimed that the mining company never communicate with or even met with local indigenous residents although the company operates in areas within the Padoe customary land area such as Wasuponda, Towuti, Wotu, Nuha, and Malili subdistricts.
Ameria also claimed that there was no compensation offered by the company to locals who own the land and that locals are not able to fight the scale of expansion of the company. As locals continue to farm their land, she said, representatives from the mining company would warn them about the impending expansion.
"Farmers would eventually be under pressure because of this," she recalled.
It is also reported that the nickel mining company will use the plots of land to build a golf course and camping ground for company workers.
Balambano Village resident Lukman (48) admitted that PT Vale had seized his one-hectare land plot without his knowledge and without compensation.
Lukman claimed that both the government and PT Vale opened any communication with the locals. "From the work contract, they claim this is their land," said Lukman. "One-sided claim," he added.
Company track record
Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) coordinator, Melky Nahar, asserted the bad track record shown by PT Vale in carrying out mining activities. In 2016, people protested the company in Sorowako, East Luwu Regency over claims that the mining company arbitrarily seized their customary land.
Then in March 2022, the same people protested again over the same allegation but protesters were thrown into prison. "All environmental and humanitarian crimes committed by Vale have never been prosecuted," said Melky.
PT Vale operates under a work contract that was amended on 17 October 2014 and will remain valid until December 28, 2025, with a 70,566-hectare concession area in East Luwu Regency, South Sulawesi.
South Sulawesi Forum for the Environment (WALHI) Director Muhammad Al Amin said that since the initiation of the concession area, the local indigenous community had never been involved, which has triggered numerous social conflicts to date.
Amin highlighted the crucial livelihood of locals that depend on farming. "The people's farms and forest areas are now considered within PT Vale's concession area," said Amin.