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Mineral Governance, Conflicts and Rights: Case Studies on the Informal Mining of Gold, Tin and Coal in Indonesia

Mining has been occuring in Indonesia long before even the present nation came into being. Mineral resources form part of the nation's diverse livelihood bases in local communities. The successive governments of the sovereign Indonesian nation-state have felt it necessary to control mineral exploitation and to regulate mining activities. This was seen in Article 33(3) of the 1945 National Constitution that mandated the State to control and exploit all lands, waters, and natural riches contained therein for the greatest benefit of the people. Through the country's mining law and government decrees, the 'controlling' and 'exploiting' aspects are then often manifested in the granting of mining permits to selective big companies - mainly foreign-owned but also national ones-as well as prioritizing the protection of their investments and interests. Consequently, it tended to protect mainly the big players, often at the cost of illegalizing the presence of informal miners.

Informality in the Indonesian economy extends into its mineral industries, from extraction through digging, processing, to transportation and marketing. On average, these activities employ nearly ten times the number of people than that in formal mining employment. In Indonesia, all those involved in mining are required to have a permit from the authority as it is regulated in the Mining Law. However, most informal miners choose to operate secretly and fall into the category of 'any mining activity without permit from government institutions according to the laws'. The stance regarding informal mining also involves local resource governance politics; for instance, the 1999 Autonomy Law enables district heads to regulate and issue mining permits to individuals or groups without consulting the central government. Consequently, there are groups of miners who operate with this permit who are still regarded as illegal by the state government. This situation is a contradiction to that of the existing large mining companies who receive permits from the state government. At this stage, legal and illegal becomes blurred.

This thesis examines informal mining operations in Pongkor's Cisarua, West Bangka, and South Kalimantan. Besides thrashing out the gaps and inconsistencies in the legal structure of mineral resource governance during and post the New Order regime, I have used field-based methodologies to track the informal 'mineral cycle'-from mining to marketing. The thesis also throws light on the operation of the informal networks, the demand and supply responses, and above all, an evaluation of the informal mining economy of the region.

Additional Info

N I Lestari
Publication Year
Associated Partners
Australian National University
Publishing Institution Webpage
Data Source Classification
Academic Study
Research Type
Thematic Tags
Political, Conflict, Formalization, Governance, Legal, Land Rights, Mineral Rights
Coal, Gold, Tin
South Asia
Last Updated
November 20, 2020