The board of controversial mining giant BHP Billiton is set to be criticised at its AGM next month by an Indonesian activist.
The concern is over seven coal concessions collectively covering an area of more than 350,000 hectares in the relatively unspoilt rainforest centre of the island of Borneo.
Part of this project overlaps the transnational Heart of Borneo conservation area, described by the Asian Development Bank as “the lungs of Southeast Asia".
Hendrik Siregar, Coordinator of JATAM (The Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network), will be attending the AGM to raise his concerns about the Indomet project in Central and East Kalimantan.
The AGM will also be attended by Yasmin Romero Epiayu, an Indigenous Wayuu woman from Colombia who is coming to criticise the board over displacement and pollution issues from the Cerrejón coal mine.
The Indomet project is a joint venture with Indonesia’s second biggest thermal coal producer PT Adaro. BHP Billiton holds a 75 per cent share, with Adaro holding the other 25 per cent.
Community leaders from Maruwai village next to the planned Haju mine do not want any more mining companies to come to their lands. The pollution and destruction caused by existing coal mining has prompted them to reject the advancing spread of mining corporations like BHP Billiton, which threatens to destroy their health and livelihoods.
Hendrik Siregar commented: "BHP Billiton, backed by UK shareholders and investors, tells the world that it is 'resourcing the future'. Local communities in Central Kalimantan are telling us that coal mining is destroying their future."
Hendrik Siregar's trip to London follows a visit to Indonesia and the site of the Indomet project by the UK organisations Down to Earth and the World Development Movement. It coincides with the launch of a report by WDM entitled Banking while Borneo Burns.
The report highlights the wide-ranging complicity of UK investment in Indonesia’s ‘coal rush’, which is so devastating for local communities and their environment. Hendrik will also be meeting with parliamentarians, investors, the UK government and the public as part of his trip.
The extent of corporate involvement in Indonesia’s coal sector – backed by the UK government – has recently emerged through a series of scandals and new independent reports: the Bumi plc scandal; Standard Charter’s billion-dollar loan to the Borneo Lumbung coal mining company; loans to BHP Billiton from HSBC, RBS, Lloyds and Barclays and UK links to a proposed controversial billion dollar railway infrastructure project to ship out coal from the Heart of Borneo.
Andrew Hickman from Down to Earth said: “The energy we consume in Britain is dirty, but the profit that UK companies make from Indonesia's coal is dirtier. Local communities facing health problems, pollution and human rights abuses in Indonesia know that this coal is deadly too. BHP Billiton's Borneo coal concessions will be a disaster for local people, the environment and our climate.”
* For more information about coal impacts in Indonesia see: http://www.downtoearth-indonesia.org/campaign/coal.
* For more information about London-listed mining companies generally, see London Mining Network’s website at http://londonminingnetwork.org/
* The WDM report and video can be accessed at http://www.wdm.org.uk/climate-change/uk-banks-financing-coal-boom-destro...