It is a publicly known fact that West Papua natural resources are large in quantity, especially mineral resources. The region has one of the largest copper mines in the whole world. Furthermore, it also has the world’s largest and biggest gold mine, called the Grasberg Mine.
Ever since the discovery of this mine, the Indonesian government in coordination with a foreign nation has been mining the resources for tens of years. In addition, these natural resources have supported the region’s economic growth. Then, what are the other natural resources that reinforce the region’s economy?
3 West Papua Natural Resources That Support the Region’s Economy
One of the biggest gold mines, Grasberg Mine, is located in the territory of Mimika Regency, Papua Province. This mine is operated by PT Freeport Indonesia, located in Tembagapura District. The company is also one of the biggest companies in the world that manage a gold mine. Freeport has been exploring, mining, and processing gold ores since 1967.
In the present day, Indonesia has owned a 51 percent dividend in the company. In addition, 70 percent of the company’s revenue goes to the country’s income. Last year, Grasberg Mine produced 1,3 million ounces of gold. Gold coming from this mine is also processed by the locals to make jewelry such as necklaces and rings. Apart from this mine, gold has been found in some areas of West Papua Province such as in Manokwari and Pegunungan Arfak Regencies.
The land of Papua’s richness in gold mines is caused by a large number of mountainous areas. Furthermore, these areas are the result of the subduction of two plates: the Indo-Australian Continental plate and the Pacific Ocean-Caroline plate. The two plates produce natural mountainous formations and push forward the mineral resources from the Earth’s bowels.
Crude oil is one of the popular West Papua natural resources. This raw material was found in Sorong City. It is the largest city in the province. The city of Sorong is famous for having a large quantity of crude oil in Klamano, Salawati, Linda, and Bintuni fields. Until today, the city is known as the Oil City because the Nederlands Nieuw-Guinea Petroleum Maatschappij (NNGPM) drilled for oil in Sorong since 1935.
In 2022, Pertamina EP Papua Field began a series of oil drilling activities. This was done to increase the number of domestic crude oil production. Should the province be able to produce this resource, the province can gain energy security. Thus, it can drive the region’s economic growth because most of the economic activities are supported by petroleum.
Nickel is a significant element with many uses. It is used to produce coins and wires. In addition, nickel resistance to corrosion is beneficial to creating rocket engines and gas turbines. This natural deposit is found in many potential areas in Raja Ampat Regency. One of the highest potential areas is Gag Island in West Waigeo. Below the surface of the island lies plentiful nickel laterite (garnierite) ores.
Since 2018 after getting the work permit, PT Gag Nikel has been conducting nickel mining activities on the island. The company received a contract in 1998 and an Environmental Permit in 2014. In the work permit, the company has a mining area of 13.136 hectares. Based on the evaluation from PT. Antam and BP-Minerals, the nickel reserves on the island have a grade of 1.55 percent, making it the third largest reserve in the world.
There are three West Papua natural resources that can support the economic growth of the province. They are gold, crude oil, and nickel ores. Each raw material is significant to the province and the country as it has different utility.