North Maluku nickel downstreaming hampers sustainable natural resource management, threatens environment

Jakarta -The Weda Bay and Obi Island in North Maluku Province are facing serious threats from the impacts of nickel mining and downstreaming, according to the latest research by Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (Walhi).

The research, titled “Water Quality and Health Status of Marine Biota”, highlights the condition of water quality in the area, which is suspected of being polluted, especially with heavy metals that can harm marine biota, including fish.

Mubaliq Tomagola, Walhi North Maluku Mining Advocacy Manager emphasized that Bulo Bay, East Halmahera, also faces similar problems.

“The three locations are areas close to nickel downstream industrial areas, such as Harita Nickel, PT IWIP, and PT Aneka Tambang (ANTAM) nickel mining operations,” he said in an official statement.

Tomagola expressed his concern over the negative impacts on waters and marine biota caused by nickel industry activities in the area. He highlighted the presence of fish, which are the target consumption of local communities, that have been exposed to toxic heavy metals.

This situation raises concerns about the potential health hazards to local communities. Water pollution and its impact on marine biota also illustrate the difficulty of sustainable natural resource management amid the growth of the nickel downstream industry.

He said the national strategic project (PSN) directly destroyed rivers. The damaged rivers include the Akejira and Ake Kobe Rivers that run through the settlements of Woekop Village, Worjerana Village, Kulo Jaya Village, and Lukulamo Village, Central Weda, Central Halmahera.

According to him, the discoloration of the two waters in the river has occurred since 2018 and is still murky until now. He explained that the contamination of water with nickel mining ore made residents’ access to clean water from the two rivers disappear. In fact, originally the river flow was a source of clean water needs with all the fulfillment of household needs of local residents.

North Maluku Province now has three downstream nickel ore processing industries, with two of them, Harita Nickel on Obi Island and PT Indonesia Weda Bay Industrial Park (IWIP) already operating. Both companies are integrated with PT Weda Bay Nickel in Weda, Central Halmahera.

The government plans to build an electric battery vehicle component factory in Buli, East Halmahera, this year, as part of the nickel downstream program. (Hartatik)

Banner photo: The nickel smelter in Central Halmahera Regency, North Maluku Province, which is part of the nickel downstreaming program, has come under scrutiny for alleged environmental pollution practices. (Source: Watchdoc)

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