The potential for mining gold, silver, precious metals and gemstones, in North Sumatra, is drawing interest from domestic and foreign investors, an official has said.
According to the North Sumatra Mining Office, 63 companies have received required 'clean-and-clear' permits from the central government and were currently carrying out mining and exploration activities in the province.
Hong Kong-based G-Resources Group Ltd., for example, has been preparing to start mining gold in the southern part of North Sumatra, while PT Sorik Mas Mining from Singapore has been carrying out exploration activities, according to North Sumatra Mining Office general mining chief Zubaidi.
'The companies have generally been exploring for gold, silver and precious metals, thus proving that the province has huge resources in mineral deposits,' Zubaidi told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of a recent discussion in Medan.
Zubaidi said that the regencies in North Sumatra with deposits of gold, silver and precious metals were located near the Bukit Barisan mountain range, such as Mandailing Natal, South Tapanuli, North Tapanuli and Central Tapanuli, while gemstone reserves were mostly found along coastal and mountainous regions, such as were found in Langkat and Dairi regencies.
The mining potential in North Sumatra, according to Zubaidi, have principally been exploited by large domestic companies, such as PT Aneka Tambang and PT Dairi Prima Mineral, a subsidiary of the Bakrie Group.
Zubaidi said the top companies were currently in the exploration stage and would begin production soon.
G-Resources Group Ltd. senior corporate communications manager Katarina S. Hardono, who also attended the discussion, said that the company was very grateful to be the first and only gold mining company to operate in
Katarina said that mining operations were not yet in full swing, as the company was currently conducting trials on the mining equipment to be used.
'Mining operations are expected to be in high gear by June this year,' Katarina said.
The firm had established a production target of 250,000 ounces of gold and 3 million ounces of silver a year, she added, while the gold reserves found in the firm's working contract area in the Martabe gold mine were projected to reach 8.05 million ounces of gold and 77 million ounces of silver.
The Martabe gold mines, spanning 1,639 square kilometers, are located in South Tapanuli and North Tapanuli regencies and have an estimated mining potential of 50 years.
South Tapanuli regency secretary Aswin Effendi said the presence of gold mining companies in the regency was expected to spur local economic growth.
'We urge the mining companies to not only seek profits, but to also have a commitment to empower the community and carry out sustainable development programs in the regency,' Aswin said.