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ASGM in West Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia

ASGM has been practiced on the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan, Sulawesi and parts of Java for many years.  In 2008 operations began on the island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara Province (WNT).  In 2010 operations began on the adjacent island of Sumbawa.

Chris Anderson has been working with the University of Mataram and the International Research Centre for the Management of Degraded and Mining Lands (IRC-MEDMIND) to assess the environmental impact of ASGM in WNT. The extent of environmental impact is described in the following publication:

Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 14(10), 2598-2607 Krisnayanti et al. (2012) 

Assessment of environmental mercury discharge at a four-year-old artisanal gold mining area on Lombok Island, Indonesia.

The Indonesian Government regards Lombok as a tourism and agricultural island.  But the negative consequences of ASGM potentially threaten the long-term sustainability of this ideal. In 2012, at the request of the German Government (Foreign Aid Programme - GIZ) and the Indonesian Government (Directorate of Urban and Rural Development), Chris Anderson and Dr. Dewi Krisnayanti of the University of Mataram conducted a comprehensive environmental impact assessment of ASGM on Lombok.

This report investigated the social, economic and environmental aspects of mining. The overall conclusion: that the economic and social impacts of ASGM are good, but that the environmental performance of ASGM must be improved as stopping mining is neither desirable nor practical.

Sacks of amalgamation tailings being loaded into cyanidation tanks, Sekotong, Lombok

Cyanidation tanks, West Sumbawa. Tailings at the end of a leach cycle is discharged to land

What is Croesus doing?

Croesus’s work in Lombok is seeking to:

  1. Build scientific and analytical capability within the University of Mataram to assess and manage mercury and heavy metal pollution

  2. Monitor the environmental impact and risk of ASGM

  3. Implement viable techniques to contain and manage pollutants in ASGM waste.

To achieve this third aim, Croesus is advocating phytoremediation to manage the waste discharged from cyanidation.  Currently, when no more gold can be recovered from the rock, tailings are discharged into rivers, rice paddies, fields or to the sea.  The metal burden of the tailings can then interact with the environment. Croesus is working with our Indonesian colleagues to stop this practice.  An IRC-MEDMIND research station was opened at a now closed cyanidation plant in February 2013.  Here waste tailings are being planted with a range of crop species that grow on the island.  Precious metal phytomining will be used to recover gold from the crop, generating economic revenue.  Mercury will be recovered in the crop or stabilised in the tailings, and this will target and manage or reduce environmental risk. Miners will be employed to grow the crops and trained with modern agricultural skills.  Our vision is that these skills will be used for sustainable agriculture; an alternative livelihood that has potential to generate reliable and substantial profits for the rural population.

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