Business solutions for responsible mining
Mining has made an important contribution to the economic development of Borneo, providing export revenue, jobs, and resources for power generation. However, the environmental impacts of mining have been severe.
There is a growing recognition that continued economic development in Borneo will be contingent on significant improvements in the environmental and social practices of companies and individuals operating there.
The challenge for the governments’ vision for conservation and sustainable use enshrined in the HoB Declaration is to ensure that as producers turn their attention to deposits within the HoB, careful spatial planning is conducted, and good regulations are developed and/ or are rigorously and consistently enforced.
Mining in the Heart of Borneo
- The Indonesian and Malaysian governments are both considering increasing their mining production from deposits in Borneo, particularly that of coal. There are more than 1,100,000 ha of coal concessions within the HoB, of these, 980,000 ha, are in the research or exploration phase, indicating the potential future growth and impact of the industry in the HoB.
- WWF believes that due to the high carbon emissions from coal, its use as an energy source should be significantly reduced over time. However, in the short term, WWF recognises that coal will remain an important and relatively low-cost source of energy for developing countries.
- Illegal coal and gold mining has significant social and environmental impacts, along with economic consequences for governments and legitimate activities. National and regional governments need to continue to tackle illegal mining, while seeking to provide alternative livelihoods for the many rural poor who are involved.
Recommendations for sustainable mining in the Heart of Borneo
- Clear regulation and effective enforcement is needed across the region. For example, ensuring that the regulatory requirement for Environmental Impact Assessments and reclamation of land are consistently enforced.
- Heightened efforts are needed to control illegal mining. A specific example is the need to reduce mercury use by illegal gold miners and protect them from the adverse health effects.
- Mining companies should identify high conservation value forests before commencing mining operations and ensure an adequate management plan is put in place to protect the value of the area during mining operations and after they are completed.
- Mine rehabilitation needs to be planned logistically and financially well in advance of the commencement of mining operations.