The recent revocation of mining permit in Sangihe prompted its youth to band together in protecting and preserving the nature of the small island.

The negative impacts of environmental degradation today will be felt by future generations. The young people of Sangihe Islands, North Sulawesi, recognize this and are determined to protect and preserve the landscape in their homes from mining threats.

This effort culminated in the declaration “Youth to Save Sangihe as God’s Sacramentum”, read out at a press conference Friday (15/9) regarding residents vs. PT Tambang Mas Sangihe (TMS).

They made the declaration after attending a four-day workshop organized by Save Sangihe Island (SSI), an anti-mining civil society coalition. During the workshop, they gained various knowledge about the environment and had the opportunity to visit three villages in Sangihe that suffered environmental damage due to gold mining.

“We witness the massive impact of mining on social culture, economy, politics, and the environment,” said Presti Malangkaeba, one of the Sangihe youths who participated in the work studio.

Malangkaeba said that Sangihe’s natural resources are abundant for its people to support their livelihood. However, the presence of gold mines is ruining all that.

According to the KontraS report, gold miners have been excavating Sangihe since the mid-1980s. It was later discovered that the area contained indicated resources of 3.16 million tons with a gold content of 1.13 grams/ton and silver content of 19.4 grams/ton.

Gold mines started appearing — including illegal operators — and Sangihe’s nature and sustainability began its slow and steady descent.

With a land area of 736.98 km2, Sangihe is categorized as a small island and Law No. 1/2014 on Management of Coastal Areas and Small Islands prohibits mineral mining activities in coastal areas and small islands.

On June 23, 2022, 37 Sangihe residents filed a lawsuit against the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources regarding the IUP OP granted to TMS. This lawsuit was filed at the Jakarta Administrative Court. Their lawsuit was rejected.

Sangihe filed an appeal on August 29, 2022, to the Jakarta High Administrative Court. The high administrative judge overturned the Jakarta Administrative Court’s decision and granted Sangihe residents’ claims. The judge also issued an interlocutory decision to postpone the implementation of TMS’ current IUP OP on Sangihe Island until the case verdict is legally binding.

The Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources and TMS retaliated by filing an appeal with the Supreme Court. Their appeal was rejected and the Jakarta High Administrative Court’s decision stands.

However, there are indications that TMS will reapply for an operating license to the energy ministry.

Sangihe’s youth hope that will not happen.

“The forest has been damaged, and the marine ecosystem is also threatened,” said Malangkaeba. As a result, marine life with a high selling value on the market have begun to decline in population. This affects the economy of residents who are mostly fishers and farmers.

“As young people, we feel called to protect and even fight for the safety of our beloved Sangihe,” said Malangkaeba.

“If not us, who else?” she pleaded.

The declaration contains eight statements:

  • We believe that Sangihe Island is the living space of the Sangihe people. This is God’s Sacrament, where God works and glorifies.
  • It is not permissible for anyone, whether Sangihe people or outsiders, to destroy the nature of Sangihe Island, its civilization, social life, values, and customs inherited by our ancestors solely in the interest of enriching themselves or their groups.
  • Sangihe Island is a small island protected by Law No. 1/2014 on Coastal and Small Island Management, which in accordance with Article 35 letter K, prohibits mineral mining.
  • Firmly reject the plan to re-apply for the operational license of PT Tambang Mas Sangihe (TMS), and urge the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to reject their application.
  • Firmly reject any form of illegal gold mining that damages the island, or pollutes the Sangihe seas and coast.
  • Demand the Sangihe Islands administration to truly work to spearhead the preservation of Sangihe Island, without ambiguity or compromise.
  • Demand that the National Police Chief, North Sulawesi Police Chief, and Sangihe Police Chief do not allow or protect rampant illegal mining. Instead, they immediately enforce the law firmly and consistently against all forms of Sangihe Island destruction.
  • We promise to protect Dangihe Island in any way possible for a better life for our children and grandchildren, and to maintain the unity of the Republic of Indonesia from the Northern Border of Indonesia.
About the writer
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Sandy Pramuji

After graduating from Padjadjaran University, Sandy has been active in journalism. Starting as a repoter at The National News Agency (LKBN) Antara in 2003, he then helped developing an English language...

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