Jakarta – The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) has revealed that land concessions for nickel mining in Indonesia reached 1,037,435.22 hectares in 2022.
Walhi campaign division head Puspa Dewy said that of this total, 765,237.07 hectares are located in forest areas.
"The allocation of nickel mining concessions in 2022 was 1,037,435.22 hectares where 765,237.07 hectares of this were in forest areas", said Dewy when speaking in Central Jakarta on Tuesday May 16.
The extent of these concessions experienced an increase on the previous year. Walhi noted that nickel mining concession covered 999,587.66 hectares in 2021 with 653,759.16 hectares of these located in forest areas.
Dewy explained that the increase in the concession areas for nickel mining was influenced by the government's ambition to create an electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem. Nickel is needed for the manufacturing of electric batteries.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo issued Presidential Regulation Number 55/2019 on the Acceleration of Battery Based Motorised Electric Vehicles Program.
Then the president also issued Presidential Instruction Number 7/2022 on the Use of Battery Based Electric Vehicles as an Official Operational Vehicle for the Central and Regional Governments.
In addition to this, the government is also providing incentives to electric vehicle related companies. "By providing fiscal and non-fiscal incentives", she said.
Dewy said that nickel mining, which has become massive, especially in forest areas, threatens the environment. She gave the example of the Ake Wosia River in Central Halmahera, North Maluku province, which is known to be polluted by mining in the region.
"At least four rivers are polluted, namely the Ake Wosia, Ake Sake, Seslewe Sini and Kobe", she said.
Dewy is recommending that the government tighten the issuance of nickel mining concession licenses, adding that mining activities are not allowed to be conducted in essential areas.
"Such as forests, coastal areas and areas that affect the ordinary people's sources of livelihood", she said.
CNN Indonesia has sought a response from Environment and Forestry Ministry Secretary General Bambang Hendroyono but has not received a response as of this article being posted. (yla/fra)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Walhi: 765 Ribu Ha Kawasan Hutan Jadi Konsensi Tambang Nikel".]