The authorities reported in the regional government of West Papua that for two years, the people of Raja Ampat Regency had experienced an economic crisis due to the impact of the pandemic. Surprisingly, it did not greatly impact the people who inhabited the Gag Islands in the regency.
Despite the unfortunate fact that some hotels and tourist attractions are nearly out of business—and some of which have even closed—due to a lack of both local and foreign tourists visiting Raja Ampat during the pandemic, the presence of some nickel mines actually helps the community’s economy to keep growing.
So, what company is behind this nickel mining? When did it start operating, and what is its other contribution to the local community on the islands? Discover them all below.
The Nickel Mining that Helps the Economy Grow in Gag Islands, West Papua
As a subsidiary of one of the leading mining companies in Indonesia, PT. Antam (Aneka Tambang Ltd.) brought by BUMN, Badan Usaha Milik Negara (State-owned enterprise), the mining company PT. Gag Nickel has a commitment and responsibility to support the community’s economy, including a commitment to preserving the surrounding environment.
This commitment was written in the business activity planning document when the relevant Ministry issued the exploitation permit in 2018. The company has been operating since 2018 and has taken various steps, including environmental management, waste management, community empowerment, job vacancy offers, etc.
Syarul Budiman Sarif, a Yogyakarta National Institute of Technology student, Faculty of Mineral Technology who researched mining activities on Gag Islands, Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua, supported the statement of the company regarding the taken steps to handle waste to prevent damage to the environment consistently.
He said, following the Permit of Borrow-to-Use Forest Area (Izin Pinjam Pakai Kawasan Hutan/IPPKH) issued by the Government, PT. Gag Nickel is allowed to use a mining area of 603 Ha, or 10% of the area of the Gag Islands. However, until today, PT. Gag Nickel has just opened a land area of 168.91 hectares.
Meanwhile, waste management from the cleared area has used a filtering system so that the disposed waste does not contain hazardous and toxic materials for organisms and microorganisms in the environment.
The Company’s Contribution to The Local Community
Gag Nickel has recently been distributing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and Respiratory Virus Transport Medium tests to the local government of Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua. That is only a part of a series of Community Empowerment Programs (Program Pemberdayaan Masyarakat/PPM) activities in celebrating the company’s 24th anniversary.
The officials of the regional government of West Papua praised the existence of a nickel mine in Raja Ampat Regency as a blessing in disguise. The company supports the economic development in the region by hiring many workers from the local community in the Gag Islands and the surroundings.
The mining is also good enough to help the residents with education by establishing a number of schools and providing scholarship assistance to outstanding students who are underprivileged through the company’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) of PT. Gag Nickel.
Corsec Legal and External Manager Dr. Mustajir explained that eight PPM programs had been implemented, i.e., education, health, real income or employment, economic, social, environmental, institutional, and infrastructure. He added the mass COVID-19 treatment was sourced from the 2022’s budget of the Community Empowerment Programs.
In addition to the mass treatment, PT. Through the PPM programs, Gag Nickel also built some Community Health Centers (Pusat Kesehatan Masyarakat/Puskesmas), provided donations for orphans, and contributed more to the efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Raja Ampat, West Papua.
Furthermore, Yulianus Thebu, one of the leaders of Raja Ampat’s indigenous community, represents the company and explains the company’s contribution to preserving the wildlife of Raja Ampat. He said that the nickel mining company has also carried out reforestation on the cleared land, improved the sea by transplanting coral reefs on the shoreline of the Gag Islands, conserved turtle hatchlings, and many more.
Not to mention that the company also distributes royalties to both the Raja Ampat Regional Government and the community, especially the indigenous people of the Kawe Tribe, Maya Tribe, Kawe Tribe in Selpele Village, The Salio tribe, and other tribes existing in Raja Ampat, West Papua.
The Raja Ampat DPRD/Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah (Regional House of Representatives) has set a regional regulation to regulate the royalty distribution so that it will be beneficial for all the future indigenous people in the region.
Contrary to a few media that have reported negative news on the nickel mining in Gag Islands, West Papua, the company that runs the mining activities PT. Gag Nickel proves them wrong. The company has prioritized local people as their workers. It also provides all workers with labor insurance (BPJS) and other rights. Through the community empowerment programs (PPM), the company also helps the economy in the region grow and supports the surrounding environment’s sustainability.