Trimegah Bangun Persada

News Detail

Is It True that Harita Polluted Obi Island's Waters? Here Is the Fact

30 January 2023

Recent initiatives to promote the electric vehicle industry in the country have also raised the popularity of nickel-producing areas, as nickel is one of the raw materials for electric vehicle batteries. One of the nickel-producing areas is Obi Island, South Halmahera, North Maluku. However, it was recently hit by marine pollution issues allegedly due to nickel mining and downstream activities by Harita Nickel.

Harita Nickel is accused of polluting Obi Island waters due to its mining waste being dumped into the sea. We have confirmed that the company has always carried out its mining activities under the Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) document since it commenced operations in Obi Island in 2010.

Under its two Mining Business Permits (IUP), Harita Nickel has started mining in an area of 5,523 ha in Obi Island since 2010. Prior to Harita Nickel's operations, this area had already been exposed to land due to past logging. Its operational area is also on red laterite soil in general, so regardless of mining activities, the soil is reddish brown when exposed to rain and may cause turbidity, both in the downstream area and the sea.

"Prior to land clearing, we conducted baseline studies, such as flora and fauna identification, as well as ecological studies in land and seawater areas. This is to identify the initial state so that there is environmental mitigation during operational activities, as well as efforts to conserve the biodiversity of flora and fauna and maintain the ecological conditions of waters from land to sea," said Tonny Gultom, HSE Director of Trimegah Bangun Persada, the company mandated by the National Strategic Project at Site Obi.

In performing mining activities, Harita Nickel applies a horizontal stripping mechanism, also referred to as an open cast method. Therefore, land excavation in mining activities is quite superficial, averaging around 10–20 meters.

"Our mining method is different from other mineral ores mining, including gold and copper. Nickel mining is generally done in laterite soil with low porosity, so the natural vegetation is not dense and the top soil containing nutrients is thin. Therefore, reclamation of mined land is carried out immediately without waiting for the mine to complete operations to regenerate the mined area and reduce erosion," Tonny added.

Hjf water sampling web

The company conducts regular water quality monitoring at several points in its work area

The company has actively involved community participation from the initial stage until the operation period, which includes delivering positive social, economic, and environmental benefits.

"We always perform our obligations properly. Environmental management and monitoring activities are routinely carried out and reported every 6 months to LHK and ESDM. They also directly verify the conditions on site," Tonny said.

Water management has also become Harita's special concern in performing nickel mining activities in Obi Island, including the construction of a sediment storage pond or Sediment Treatment Pond (STP) implemented with government licenses. The benefit of the pond is to manage mine runoff water from the rain so that it does not impact the surrounding environment. For the record, nickel mine runoff water is not acidic, unlike that from gold and coal mines.

"We made a Sediment Treatment Pond (STP), a sediment or mud collection pond. Nickel sludge cannot be filtered, but principally the energy is reduced. One of them is the zig-zag method. Thus, the mud carried by rainwater is deposited in the sediment pond. The monitoring results of mine runoff water are also routinely reported to the LHK every 3 months," Tonny said.

All of Harita Nickel's statements were also supported by a statement from the Environmental Investigator of the North Maluku Environmental Agency (DLH), Yusra Hi Noho. Yusra clarified the issue circulating that fish in Obi Island could not be consumed due to heavy metal contamination.

"That is not verified, especially for Harita Nickel, whose environmental management process is very good. They control mine runoff water through sediment pond points that are maintained and monitored. So to prove it (the issue of environmental and marine pollution in Obi Island) we are a bit difficult if it comes from Harita," said Yusra.

It should be noted that there is not only Harita Nickel operating in Obi Island, but there are other companies as well.

" At this point, we know that Harita Nickel performs environmental treatment and management for its waste under applicable government regulations and has proven its compliance. It all refers to legal environmental management standards," Yusra added.

As for the pH and TSS parameter test processing, Harita Nickel routinely carries it out every day. The company is also required to conduct monthly monitoring and analysis in accredited laboratories and report to the Environmental Agency every quarter. The monitoring results show that the company has met the quality standards in accordance with Minister of Environment Regulation No. 9 of 2006, concerning Wastewater Quality Standards for Businesses and/or Nickel Ore Mining.

"They tested all the parameters, and (all allegations) were not proven. Incidentally, I previously led the team that evaluated environmental management in the past years. Once we evaluate it, it is not proven at all," Yusra said.

Yusra also dismissed allegations that Harita had dumped tailings into the sea. The company has been granted a permit to place tailings on land by the Ministry of Environment; it is at the mined location.

"The tailings material is placed at the hole or strip mine. In other words, it is returned to nature, to the place where the material was originally mined. Therefore, dumping tailings into the sea is not true, it's a hoax," said Yusra.

*This article is translated from

Go Top