Ministry: Regional Gov’ts Should Eradicate Mercury Use in Gold Mines

Jakarta (ANTARA) – The Environment and Forestry Ministry encourages regional governments to become more involved in eradicating the use of mercury in mines, including small-scale gold mines.

“The technology already exists and so does the location,” the ministry’s Garbage, Waste, and Dangerous Toxic Material Management (PSBL3) Director General Rosa Vivien Ratnawati noted during a virtual discussion on Tuesday.

“However, the one thing that I request through this opportunity is the attention of regional governments from provinces, districts, or cities,” she affirmed.

The regional government is the side that understands the condition on the field. To suppress small-scale gold mining that utilizes mercury, she expects regional governments’ participation in devising the Mercury Reduction and Eradication Regional Action Plan.

Handling illegal small-scale gold mines is important, as the utilized technologies are usually very simple.

As a result, they lower the environment quality since they open up lands and dispose tailings, as well as waste arising from gold extraction that do not go through the standard process.

Moreover, illegal small-scale gold mining usually utilizes chemical materials, such as mercury, that could pollute the surrounding environment, including the river and lands.

The government continues to handle illegal small-scale gold mines through collaboration between the ministry and the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) to encourage mercury-free mining technology, Ratnawati stated.

Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s official Muhammad Wafid also expressed similar views.

The minister expects the central and regional governments to synergize efforts in handling unlicensed mining practice (Peti).

“Eliminating or reducing unlicensed mining practice or Peti, or illegal small-scale gold mine is to be formalized,” he noted.

“This formalization cannot be the sole responsibility of the central government but also the regional governments as well as local residents,” he stated.

This is deemed necessary in order to achieve the goal of eradicating the use of mercury in Indonesia, he emphasized.