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Indigenous communities oppose mining activities of PT Zoomlion in their customary land

Human Rights Monitor - June 7, 2024

Indigenous communities in Kapiraya district, Deiyai Regency, Papua Tengah (Central Papua) Province, are actively protesting the operations of PT Zoomlion, a Chinese company, which entered the area in 2023 to extract gold with heavy machinery (excavators) without obtaining permits from either the customary right owners or the relevant government authorities.

The use of heavy machinery by PT Zoomlion has already caused damage to riverbanks and surrounding areas, impacting water quality and local access to clean water.

The Central Papua Provincial Government has confirmed that gold mining activities are illegal. Frets James Boray, Head of the Central Papua Manpower, Transmigration and Mineral Resources Energy Office (Disnakertrans-ESDM), stated this to Media outlet Koranpapua on 1 April 2024. Boray outlined the regulations governing community mining if such activities were to be legalised.

"Community mining is permitted, but only with the use of simple tools, not heavy machinery like excavators," he stated. "Bringing in excavators is strictly forbidden due to their detrimental impact on the environment and their violation of the law."

Boray admitted his lack of knowledge regarding the individuals who brought in the heavy equipment for the current illegal mining activities. He urged the public to provide clear information regarding the ownership of this equipment.

Furthermore, he issued a direct plea: "To the public and any entrepreneurs involved, I urge you to cease these illegal mining activities immediately." He also called upon law enforcement officials to take appropriate action before further damage occurs.

On 15 May 2024, the community through a representative issued an open letter (download PDF) to the authorities of Deiyai and Dogiyai Regencies objecting the entry of PT Zoomlion. They urged the authorities to clarify the situation and potentially stop the mining activity to protect the environment and local people. In late May, community members blocked the site in protest, prompting a reaction from the authorities.

On 31 May 2024, a Dogiyai DPRD member said, they met the Provincial Mineral Resources Energy Office representative. During the meeting it was revealed that PT Zoomlion is operating illegally. The Office representatives committed to visiting the site in Kapiraya and monitoring the activities and ownership of customary land areas. The information collected should be the basis for stoping illegal mining sites in Kapiraya.

Source: https://humanrightsmonitor.org/general/indigenous-communities-oppose-mining-activities-of-pt-zoomlion-in-their-customary-land-in-kapiraya-deiyai