A civil servant in East Kalimantan has been arrested for allegedly allowing two mining companies to operate illegally in the province.
“We arrested him on Monday,” said Comr. Agus Siswanto, the Samarinda Police’s chief of detectives, identifying the suspect only by his initials, W.S. “He surrendered himself and we immediately detained him.”
The arrest came after the Samarinda chapter of the Indonesian Environmental Management Board (BLHI) reported two mining companies for operating in the city after their permits had been revoked or suspended.
The two companies, CV Prima Coal Mining and Graha Benua Etam, lost their permits for 155 hectares of land in January after the regional environmental agency found they had violated mining procedure and damaged the environment.
The companies could no longer legally mine the land and should have returned it to the state, Agus said, but W.S., a civil servant for the provincial administration, gave them certificates of origin, which were required to transport and sell mining products.
“This has caused losses to the state,” Agus said. “And we don’t know how long they [the companies] have been operating illegally. We’re still investigating.”
The police have blocked off the entrance to the mines and confiscated heavy machinery found on site along with sacks of coal that were ready for sale.
Meanwhile, Kahar Al Bahri from the Network for Mining Advocacy (Jatam) criticized the process of issuing certificates of origin, which he said were merely opportunities for civil servants to engage in corruption.
“It’s clear that the certificates are causing problems, and that should be acknowledged by the city authority and the Samarinda legislative council,” he said. “The certificates should be scrapped because they have become an easy avenue for corruption or [issuing] illegal levies.”
Certificates of origin have been issued since 2002. They are used to determine how much coal is produced, which helps with royalty and earnings computations.
However, Kahar said city officials and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry lacked authority to audit the earnings and royalties.
“The certificates exist so we can know how much was produced and how much royalty the government can get, but we still don’t have any data on this,” he said. “It would be better to just drop it [the certificates].”
Agus Suwandi, the head of a mining oversight committee at the Samarinda city council, said the certificates were not required nationally but were helpful for determining royalty payments.
About 50 mining companies operate around Samarinda, and activists and environmentalists say the extensive mining operations have increased flooding in the area.