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Java Sea, Natuna waters open for sea sand mining: Indonesian ministry

Jakarta Post - March 19, 2024

Ruth Dea Juwita, Jakarta – The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry has announced areas permitted for sea sand mining, inviting businesses to apply for licenses to conduct the activity in those locations.

Those areas include the Java Sea, the Makassar Strait and the Natuna-North Natuna waters with the three containing a combined potential yield of 17.65 billion cubic meters (cbm) of sea sand sediment. Permit holders will have a depth limit of three meters, according to the ministry's statement on Friday.

"The selection of these locations was certainly carried out after coordinating with a number of parties and was based on scientific studies," the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono said in the statement.

The announcement comes months after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo signed a regulation that reversed a decades-old ban on sea sand mining and exports.

The new rule, introduced in May last year, allows permit holders to collect sediment, including sea sand, and use it for land reclamation, private and state infrastructure development and even exports provided that domestic needs have been met.

Before the ban was introduced in 2007, most sea sand mined in the country was sent to Singapore, according to the Singaporean government.

Experts and environmental groups warned that lifting the policy would further degrade the country's vital marine ecosystems, while threatening the livelihoods of fishermen and coastal communities.

The ministry said the Natuna-North Natuna waters were expected to contribute more than half of the estimated potential with 9.09 billion cbm, situated in Karimun Island, Lingga Island and Bintan Island of the Riau Islands province.

This is followed by the Java Sea, which is expected to contribute the majority of the estimated yield of 5.6 billion cbm in Demak regency, Surabaya, Cirebon regency, Indramayu regency and Karawang regency.

The Makassar Strait, which also includes two East Kalimantan regencies, Kutai Kartanegara and Balikpapan, is estimated to contain 2.97 billion cbm in total.

The ministry requires companies seeking to conduct exploitation to have prior experience in sea sand dredging and utilization, along with specialized equipment for extraction, transportation, placement and sales.

It also stipulates that approved applicants must prioritize fulfilling domestic demand for sea sand. The ministry opens for applications and licenses until March 28.

The policy is expected to benefit those looking to import sea sand for land reclamation projects, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, more than Indonesia, Tenggara Strategics, a think-tank affiliated with The Jakarta Post, wrote in June last year.

Meanwhile, a collaborative investigation by journalists and NGOs has uncovered illegal quartz sand mining activities and failures to conduct environmental assessments on Gelam Island in West Kalimantan.

Gelam Island, which spans about 28 square kilometers in Ketapang, holds a permit for quartz sand mining with exploration activities and work has been underway since 2022.

The investigation found that land had been cleared and exploited without proper permits by two quartz mining firms, as quoted from Antara.

Additionally, both companies failed to conduct environmental impact assessments as required by Government Regulation (PP) No 22/2021, according to the West Kalimantan Environment and Forestry Agency (DLHK) Adi Yani.

Source: https://asianews.network/java-sea-natuna-waters-open-for-sea-sand-mining-indonesian-ministry