Webinar on “Indonesia’s New Coal and Mining Law: Its Consequences for the Environment”

In this seminar, Dr Hendro Sangkoyo talks about the politics behind the passing of Indonesia’s new coal and mineral mining law as well as the long history of natural resource extraction in Indonesia. Mr Made Supriatma discusses the controversies surrounding the new law and relates them to domestic political dynamics.


Wednesday, 29 July 2020 – ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute invited Dr Hendro Sangkoyo, researcher and co-founder of the School of Democratic Economics, Jakarta, to discuss the politics behind the passing of Indonesia’s new coal and mineral mining law early this year. ISEAS Visiting Fellow Mr Made Supriatma discussed and highlighted the political standpoint of the law. Dr Siwage Dharma Negara chaired the webinar.

Dr Hendro Sangkoyo addressed questions on the social and ecological costs that Indonesia has to bear under the implementation of the new mining law. The discussant, Mr Made Supriatma, presented some controversial chapters and verses in the new mining law. Dr Siwage Dharma Negara moderated the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Sangkoyo began by raising some issues concerning the new mining law, including the impact of mining jurisdiction on societal space and forests’ sustainability. He argued that the new law benefits big miners in particular at the costs to the environment. This is because the law allows no cap in mining property possession and size.

Laying out his research findings, Dr Sangkoyo found that the state has been developing narratives to manipulate mining territories since 1968. In 2009, the policy makers decided to amend the environmental law and the old coal and mining law. After a long legal drafting process, they passed the new law in 2020. He opined that many stakeholders with vested interests lobbied for the passing of this law. Dr Sangkoyo also mentioned a new trend in state-led extractivism in the post-Suharto era, including the state’s attempt for land acquisition in the mining areas in order to fulfil the international demands on coal and minerals. Moreover, the current legal system has discounted the social and ecological aspect of the mining industries, to the detriment of the people living in and around the mining concession areas.

In line with Dr Sangkoyo, Mr Supriatma highlighted the controversies surrounding the new law, which he claimed as part of “omnibus law”. The latter is aimed at boosting investment in Indonesia. Therefore, the mining law is aligned with business interests.

Mr Supriatma presented some controversial chapters and verses in the new mining law. For example, the law defines the mining areas as the whole space of this archipelagic country, including water, land, and below the surface. Many controversial articles are of concern to environmentalists. For example, mining activity in the river has been expanded from 25 hectares to 100 hectares. The exploration period is now longer than before, which will consequently lead to land banking practices. The law will also automatically extend the mining contracts by 2 x 10 years. Observers noticed that this contract extension is part of the efforts to extend the contract of seven of the biggest coal miners in the country. Mining permits will now be issued by central government instead of local government.

Mr Supriatma concluded that the new law emphasizes centralization and favours the big players in the coal and mining industries (oligarchs).

During the Q&A session, Dr Sangkoyo and Mr Supriatma shared their views on issues such as national-local government relations in response to the law, the ecological consequences of the state-led extractivism to the environment, the role of environmental activists at the local level, the extent to which the new law influences the government’s plan to move the capital, and how the law impacts foreign miners.

Over 30 participants attended the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)