Bima district chief revokes PT SMN's exploration permit

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero E Wacik said the Bima district chief in West Nusa Tenggara has revoked the exploration permit of mining company PT Sumber Mineral Nusantara (PT SMN).

"Just now I heard the Bima district head has revoked it (the exploration permit of PT SMN)," he said after making an expose in connection with his first 100 days in office here on Thursday.

People in Bima had rejected PT SMN`s exploration activities in the region and in a demonstration on Thursday they burned the office of the district head.

The director general of minerals and coal at the ministry of energy and mineral resources, Thamrin Sihite, said he contacted the Bima district head immediately after the burning of his office.

At the time the district head insisted that he would not revoke the permit. Later "I told him that many people had already fallen victim and as a public official he would then have to face the consequences. Finally, hesitantly he said he would do it," he said.

He said however that PT SMN could resume explorations if the local people agreed. "If the local people give their support it is possible for the company to resume its operations," he said.

Jero Wacik said in the future the local government had to listen to the people`s aspirations before issuing a permit.

"Local leaders must be careful before issuing mining permits. Familiarization must first be done intensively among the people," he said.

The central government, Jero said, would increase its supervisory role.

PT SMN earlier said it hoped it could still continue its exploration activities as it has carried them out according to the law.

The activities are aimed at confirming whether or not there are indications of gold or other mineral reserves potential for economic exploitation there.

PT SMN has already postponed survey activities carried out by 10 geological experts and the activities of administrative staff members and around 100 local workers from villages in the exploration areas. (*)