Manganese mining in West Timor has grown rapidly over the last five years, overwhelming local capacity for monitoring and regulation. Alarming social, environmental and health issues have been attributed to the largely unregulated mining of manganese in West Timor, including small scale mining by farmers: environmental damage especially with inadequate rehabilitation (e.g. erosion & forest degradation); death (more than 50 farmer/miners died in 2010), injury and health problems for miners, including children; and farmers abandoning food production for short term gains from mining.
Supported by a grant from AusAID's Public Sector Linkages Program, we are working with work with Indonesian partners to build capacity in West Timor to monitor manganese mining activities and work towards reducing the negative impacts.
Further information here »
Radio Australia Interview: Researchers look to reduce manganese mining risks in West Timor »
Capacity building in West Timor - Oct 19 - Nov 5th - Trip Report
This trip was focused on delivering the first in a series of training workshops building capacity in local government staff for monitoring the impacts of manganese mining in West Timor. Training was provided with assistance from staff and a student from UNDANA university (Kupang) as well as two staff from the provincial BLHD office.
Training was provided at three locations across West Timor (Atambua, Kefamanau and Kupang) to facilitate the direct engagement with local government staff and to further socialise the project.
Staff from Departments of: Forestry (Kehutanan), Environmental protection (BLHD), Mining (Tambangan) and Planning (BAPEDDA) attended each training session. In total over 50 government staff received training.
A total of 14 GPS’s and 10 digital cameras were divided amongst the participating departments from each of the participating districts. Each workshop was conducted over two days with the first day focusing on field survey training and included a visit to a local manganese mining area. The second day focused on field data management and data visualisation and mapping, using OpenSource GIS tools.
All participants over the two weeks showed very high levels of interest in the training and could see the immediate benefits from being able to systematically record and map mining areas in their district. The goal for these workshops was to have set up the skills and interest for conducting on-going field surveys of the distribution and extent, primarily unregulated small scale mining, in west Timor. In order to coordinate the planning of future field surveys one of the BLHD staff (Pak Jefri) facilitated a discussion and planning session at the end of each workshop. Provincial BLHD, as the lead partner organisation, has committed to following up with the participating districts to help coordinate survey work.
It is planned that this workshop will be followed next year by further training building skills and GIS data management, mapping and analysis as well as impact risk modelling.
For the Atambua field trip we visited a medium scale mine that was presented as a model of community/company partnership. The mining is co-ordinated by a Javanese company and guided by the local community. Heavy machinery is used to remove the over-burden and the community then extracts and sorts the Manganese manually. Members of the community not involved in the mining are supported by the company through the provision of farming tools and livestock. The visit to this site was well handled by the company but it did seem genuine. There is now no unregulated small scale mining in this area now meaning that health risks and environmental impact are minimised/controlled.
For the Kefamananu field trip we travelled to a site very close to town that was a model of an unregulated environmental disaster. Large shallow and deep well holes had been dug all over this area on hill sides as well in creek beds. I imagine that this wet season much of this area will be washed away. This site seems too far gone for any type of rehabilitation. For interest the hotel we stayed had quite a number of foreign investors looking to cash in on the Manganese boom.
The training in Kupang was attended by participants from Soe (TTS) Kabupaten Kupang, Kota Kupang as well as provincial level representatives from the participating departments.
The field trip was to a site approximately 2 hour’s drive from central Kupang (~50kms) to an area with many trans-location settlements housing quite a few East Timorese refugees. The extensive artisanal mining was on a steep hill slope and creek valley floor and was largely abandoned although there was some evidence of continuing deep hole mining. As with the Kefmananu site the the errosional/sediment impacts from this site are severe. In this case intense wet season storms are likely to wash much of the hill slope into Kupang bay.
Participants - Atambua
Participants - Kupang