Tackling environmental issues in Papua and West Papua is still a big deal. Many ways have been done for that. One of the ways that can be done is to start some serious regulations regarding the mining business in these two provinces.
So, how much do the mining regulations for Papuans really work on these issues?
The Mining Regulations for The People As A Suggestion
On June 30, 2021, The Secretary of The House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Commission for the Papuans, Sinut Busup, suggested that the Yahukimo Regency Government and the local House of Representatives formed regulations for people’s mining activities in their area.
This suggestion was conveyed by a legislator from the constituencies of Yakuhimo, Yalimo, and also the Bintang Mountains. There were major concerns about the possibility of triggering conflicts if people’s gold mining activities were not properly managed.
According to Sinut, gold panning locations or traditional mines in some areas in Yakuhimo have attracted huge attention. Many people from outside Papua and West Papua have grown interested that they decided to visit the areas.
At first, this might have seemed like a great idea for a tourism site. However, many people coming from neighboring provinces and countries like Papua New Guinea would be causing more problems too. Sinut Busup addressed the issues through his perspective below:
“If these gold miners are not properly regulated, then there is a potential for friction in the community. This may occur especially with traditional miners from outside the region, with residents there or the customary owners of the mining area.”
What The Mining Regulations Could Determine:
Sinut then added that the Yahukimo Regency Government and the local House of Representatives could regulate people’s mining activities in their territory with regional regulations (perda or peraturan daerah). The regulations would determine these factors:
- The areas to be used as people’s mining activities
- The maximum number of areas to be used as people’s mining activities
- The rights of customary owners or indigenous Papuans around the mining site(s)
- The contribution of local revenue
The idea was to limit the miners from outside the area. It would be enough if only the Yakuhimo local residents had access and permission to do the mining activities. If more miners outside the area started coming in, it would create clashes between the locals and the outsiders.
People’s Mining Association
In one of the recent discussion forums in Jayapura City, the indigenous people of Papua and West Papua, who own potential mining areas, have agreed to form a people’s mining association.
The Secretary II of The Papuan Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua), John NR Gobai, who had initiated the discussion, stated that there were several conclusions drawn from the forum. In addition to declaring a People’s Mining Association in this province, his party would also convey several points to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (Menteri Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral).
Among many other things, one of the points included urging the Minister to immediately change the decision of the Minister in 2017 regarding the mining area on the island. Other things included determining the people’s mining area, which has been proposed by the governor of Papua. The area is now still in progress.
Through the appointment mechanism, the members of the Papuan House of Representatives stated that—in the Law Number 3/2020 (UU No.3/2020) concerning Mineral and Coal Mining, each block or community mining area should be a maximum of 100 hectares.
The head of the Korowai Tribe, Adonai Yalengatu, even agreed to form a mining community forum. That way, the environmental issues in Papua and West Papua can be tackled systematically and effectively. Hopefully, the Mining Regulations can help to avoid environmental exploitation in these two provinces.