09 April 2023
Environmental issues are often closely associated with mining companies, and this is also true for PT Trimegah Bangun Persada Tbk, a mining and downstream company commonly known as Harita Nickel. Harita operates its nickel mining business on Obi Island, which borders the Maluku Sea and is located in South Halmahera.
On the island, Harita has at least four subsidiaries which: PT Gane Permai Sentosa (GPS), PT Megah Surya Pertiwi (MSP), PT Halmahera Persada Lygend (HPL), and PT Halmahera Java Feronikel (HJF). However, the mining operations have raised concerns about their impact on the environment.
The subsidiaries of Harita Nickel have integrated operations that cover everything from mining to processing nickel ore. With multiple companies operating in Kawasi Village, Obi District, effective waste management has become mandatory for these businesses.
During a visit to Harita Nickel's industrial area, Liputan6.com had the opportunity to observe the company's environmental management practices. One of the key practices is the treatment of wastewater and mine runoff.
Harita Nickel has allocated around IDR 17.6 billion in 2023 for environmental management, including reforestation of former mining areas and management of mining waste.
According to Tonny H. Gultom, the Director of Health, Safety, and Environment at PT Trimegah Bangun Persada Tbk, wastewater management is one of the main expenses. He stated this during a visit to Obi Island on Sunday (9/4/2023).
All mining operations and their downstream factories are obligated to manage mining and wastewater. To manage wastewater, Harita Nickel has constructed several infrastructure facilities such as drainage systems, drop structures, and settling ponds before the water flows into the Todoku River. After undergoing treatment, the wastewater from the factory operations flows through the Todoku River, which runs for approximately 8 km, before it eventually ends up in the sea.
To maintain the environment, the wastewater is collected in various artificial basins at different elevations in the upstream area. The goal is to allow for the settling of the carried materials. From there, the wastewater flows downstream. Once it reaches the downstream area, the previously turbid wastewater with mud deposits becomes clear.
The management of wastewater is regulated under the Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation (Permen KLHK) Number 5 of 2014. Based on the regulation, the industrial wastewater quality standards state that the Total Dissolved Solid (TDS) level should not exceed 2,000 mg/L, and the Total Suspended Solid (TSS) should be less than 200 mg/L.
As a result, Harita Nickel's wastewater quality is below both of these limits. Looking at the flow in Todoku, it appears brownish. However, this is just the reflection of the sediment on the riverbed. The water itself is clear and eventually flows into the sea.
Tonny explained that in terms of water management, Harita Nickel also has natural spring sources. The springs that emerge in the mining area are then piped to the local residents' homes. The water is used for bathing, washing, and even daily drinking water consumption.
"We also conduct routine testing and monitoring on the water that comes out of the springs. We don't want this clear water to be contaminated," emphasized Tonny.
Based on field verification, the water coming out of the Kawasi spring source is clear and has been maintained its clarity. The data shows that the water has a pH level of 8.1, TDS of 0.195 g/L, and oxygen content of 8.27 mg/L.
"In fact, the community in Kawasi uses this water source to produce bottled water," Tonny explained.
As it is known, Kawasi village has an area of approximately 133.79 square kilometers with a population of more than 1,000 people. Therefore, the use of the Kawasi spring, which is managed by Harita Nickel, becomes a daily necessity.
Thus, the data also concludes that Harita Nickel does not pollute the environment in the Kawasi village area on Obi Island.