The Jambi Legislative Council has demanded an audit of coal mining licensing practices to help prevent overlapping mining concessions.
Yasir, head of Commission II of Jambi council, said over the weekend that the audit was needed to improve the current system. “Through the audit, it will become clear which licenses are still valid and which have already expired,” he said.
So far, he said, whenever a coal mining company started exploration in a certain area, it was not known whether the area was located in forested land or not.
“There must be coordination, synchronization and corrections to the existing spatial planning
map,” he said.
Yasir made the remarks in response to a recent report by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK), which disclosed that in the second semester of 2011, the state suffered losses amounting to Rp 488 billion (US$50 million) in the coal mining sector. Out of the total amount, the losses registered in Jambi reached Rp 73 billion or about 15 percent of the total national figure.
Ali Masykur Musa, a member of BPK’s mineral resources and environment section, said that the losses were uncovered in discrepancies in payment of taxes and royalties, among other things, from five coal mine contracts.
Yasir reiterated that the coal mining audit had to be carried out to enforce responsibility among all parties.
“This is badly needed for the sake of clarity in terms of natural resource locations and whether a certain area can be mined or not,” he said.
Yasir’s call was supported by the director of the Jambi Reform People Confederation (Somasi), Fikri Riza, who said that the audit should be on all coal mining licenses at all levels of administration.
“There should be a number of steps, including taking an inventory of all mining licensea and harmonization and synchronization of all related regulations,” he said.
The government, he said, also had to conduct a review because of the range of impacts on everyday people, including waste problems, the opening of access and others.
Fikri further said that the granting of licenses to coal companies should have been done through the existing mechanism, and that the government had to think about potential negative impacts of coal mining operations.
“There must be detailed calculation. Don’t just issue licenses without taking into consideration the bad impacts on the community,” he said.
According to Ali Masykur, out of the 386 licenses issued in Jambi, 223 concessions were located in forested land, either forest conservation areas or protected forest areas.
Out of that number, only 141 mining companies were operating in line with existing procedures, while another 245 were problematic, he said.
At least 27 coal mining operations and plantations in Jambi are suspected to be operating under questionable licenses. They operate throughout nearly every regency in Jambi.