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Jakarta Post

From COAL MINE to tourist spot

  • Khairul Saleh

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, March 23 2011   /  10:00 am

First stone: Visitors pose at the old gate mining called Mbah Suro door, in Sawahlunto.JP/Khairul SalehWhile the glory days of Ombilin, the famous open-pit coal mine near West Sumatra’s Sawahlunto, may be over, the region continues to bring benefits to its constituents through reforestation of the former mining location and its conversion into a tourist destination.

Dutch engineer WH. De Gereve discovered coal by the banks of the Ombilin River in 1868. Coal was first produced in 1892 after thorough exploration (between 1870 and 1880) and the construction of a railway in Sawahlunto, Padang and Emmahaven (Teluk Bayur) port (between 1888 and 1891).

Before the Independence, coal production peaked in 1930, at more than 620,000 tons a year. It peaked again and in 1976 at 1,201,846 tons a year.

Japan controlled the mine in 1942 until Indonesia took it over three years l...