"Why a Big Mining Project Could Wipe Out Rural Villages in Indonesia"

"A mine tailings dam planned for a seismically unstable area of Sumatra’s rainforest would be at high risk of failure, experts warn. The dam’s collapse would be a disaster, they say, releasing a wall of slurry that would engulf and bury Indigenous villages and their inhabitants."

"Deep in rain-swept forests on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, an environmental and human disaster is looming, at a zinc mine ready for digging in mountains considered the most seismically dangerous on Earth. Mining experts are warning that a dam set to hold millions of tons of waste slurry from the mine is almost bound to fail, potentially engulfing Indigenous villagers in their homes just a few hundred feet away, and pouring toxins down rivers and through forests inhabited by critically endangered Sumatran orangutans.

The proposed mine would be dug underground in the Barisan Mountains, the backbone of Sumatra. The area is surrounded by protected forests and villages of the Indigenous Pakpak people, who have long lived in scattered communities across Dairi district in northern Sumatra, and the Toba people, who moved there in the early 20th century.

The $630-million project would be operated by Dairi Prima Mineral (DPM), a joint venture between Indonesian mining giant Bumi Resources, which is owned by the politically well-connected Bakrie family of Indonesia, and the Chinese state-owned China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group."

Fred Pearce reports for Yale Environment 360 March 25, 2021.

Source: YaleE360, 03/30/2021