July 19, 2018

Freeport disregards former President Megawati’s order

( - As of now, despite the finding in the Indonesian Supreme Audit Agency’s (BPK) April 2017 report that mining giant Freeport has been conducting operations in protection forests without a state forest use permit from the Indonesian forestry authorities, significant parts of these operations are still underway.

In fact, Freeport should have been carrying out such operations with this permit ever since being required to do so by former President Megawati Soekarnoputri in May 2004.

The lack of this permit in Freeport’s operations, encompassing both ongoing open-pit and underground mining operations, could have serious consequences for the mining company if the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry adopts the audit report recommendation and imposes a sanction on Freeport for its negligence in this regard.  

The following Google Earth images (5/3/2017) depict the level of Freeport’s ongoing operations across Papua’s protection forests which, according to the audit report, are being performed without a state forest use permit from the Indonesian forestry authorities. 

The supreme audit agency report also points out that Freeport’s unlicensed operations in protection forests could result in 10-year jail sentences for those found to be responsible.

Furthermore, the audit report emphasizes that because Freeport does not have the permit for using the protection forests in question, Indonesia has lost substantial state revenues that are supposed to be paid by Freeport to the Indonesian government. 

The Google Earth images below (8/12/2016) show parts of Freeport’s operations in protection forests that are still taking place without a permit for the use of these forests.


Making matters worse, according to the audit report, Freeport’s operations have also caused environmental losses, including disruption to protection forests due to surface subsidence from underground mining. 

The audit report goes on to reveal that Freeport has not reported to the Indonesian authorities in a transparent or thorough manner on the extent of its underground mining operations. 

Freeport’s perpetual violations over many years, by conducting operations in protection forests without a permit, should be one of the key concerns to emerge from the recent signing of a heads of agreement concerning current Indonesian government efforts to acquire a major stake of Freeport.

On the other hand, if Freeport’s violations are overlooked, it would set a bad precedent in forestry and environmental law enforcement, seeing that not only Freeport but many other mining companies are operating without a permit for the use of state forests.  

In the event that Freeport escapes law enforcement action, other mining companies will most certainly request and expect the same legal treatment, thus making a farce of the entire situation.