By David Fogarty
20 October 2014
(mongabay.com) – Global miner BHP Billiton and Indonesian partner PT Adaro are developing what could become the single largest mine in Indonesia in terms of land area, with BHP owning 75 percent. The IndoMet mine complex in Central and East Kalimantan provinces on Borneo comprises seven coal concessions, which cover 350,000 hectares, or about five times the size of Singapore.
In total, the area has an estimated 1.27 billion metric tons of coal resources, according to Adaro, mainly coking coal used to make steel.
In detailed responses to questions, BHP says it is making progress on developing the first mine in the complex, called Haju. Infrastructure development is underway, including road works and a port along the Barito River. Haju is planned to produce one million metric tons of coal per year. Haju mine itself will cover 660 hectares and initial production is expected in 2015, BHP says.
The company says the current area covered by the seven concessions will be reduced over time and returned to the government, in line with regulations that mandate 50 percent of the exploration area be returned within a set timeframe. That means the mandated maximum holding of the total area of the seven concessions is expected to be no more than about 175,000 hectares, BHP says.
Conservation groups, such as the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (or Walhi) fear the project will cause widespread deforestation in an area of the province that still has large areas of rainforest. “It is expected that only a fraction of this area will be actively mined at any given time, about 5,000 hectares. Additionally, there are other restrictions on how much of this can be used, for example under forestry laws,” BHP said. [more]