Refusal Of Mining Business Permit PT. MMI In Morowali Indonesia: Community Perspective And Environmental Impact – OpEd


According to a report by the United States Geological Survey Agency (USGS), Indonesia is the number one nickel producing country in the world. Total production is estimated at 1.6 million metric tons or contributing 48.48% of total global nickel production last year.

Apart from being a leading producer, Indonesia is listed as the owner of the world’s largest nickel reserves in 2022, reaching 21 million metric tons. Its position is on par with Australia. This means that each of Indonesia and Australia account for approximately 21% of total global nickel reserves over the past year.

Based on information from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR), Indonesia has an area of 520,877.07 hectares of nickel mines spread across seven provinces, Maluku, North Maluku, Papua, West Papua, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi.

In the Central Sulawesi region, one of the largest mines is in the Morowali Regency area. The Morowali Block contains a number of large and small mines, including gold, nickel and other non-ferrous metal mines. The Morowali block area has great potential in the mining industry, making it one of the main destinations for investors involved in the mining industry in Indonesia.

On May 30 2023, through the 2023 International Nickel & Cobalt Industry Chain Summit, organized by the Indonesian Nickel Miners Association (INMA) and the Shanghai Metal Market (SMM) at the Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta. Assistant for the Economy and Development of the Central Sulawesi Secretariat, Rudi Dewanto, when speaking as a speaker, said that, Central Sulawesi Province always realizes investment that exceeds the target, where investment originating from China and Hong Kong contributes 44% of the total investment realization of Central Sulawesi Province. Currently, Central Sulawesi has 113 nickel mining business permits. This amount was recorded based on data from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR).

In Morowali Regency there are 53 companies that have mining permits with a total area of 11.8,139 hectares. The rapid investment in mining in Morowali has in fact created various polemics among the Morowali community, resulting in large-scale protests by the community against the Regional Government and the Provincial Government of Central Sulawesi, especially regarding the granting of Mining Business Permits in the Morowali region.

IUP Controversy PT. MMI in the Morowali Capital Region

Recently, the existence of a number of mining permits in the Bungku Tengah District area which is the capital of Morowali Regency, Central Sulawesi, has drawn a lot of protests from various parties, especially Morowali students.

The protest started with the circulation of digital documents regarding the issuance of mining permits by PT. Mineral Morowali Indonesia (PT. MMI) in the area of Bahoruru Village and Sakita Village where the village is located in the Bungku Tengah District area which incidentally is the capital of the Morowali Regency itself.

The protest followed up on the community’s unrest after hearing information about the issuance of the mining permits of PT. MMI in their area which has been signed since the Morowali District Government era in 2014. The community is worried that PT. MMI submitted a mining permits extension and operated massively in the Bungku Tengah region for the next 10 years.

On June 12 2023, the IP2MM agency sought information in the Sakita Village area at the Sakita Village Hall. The meeting was attended by the people and officials of the Sakita Village. Through this dialogue, the dominant community rejects the existence of any mining permits from PT. MMI in the Sakita Village area.

The presence of the mining permit, if the activity is considered to have a negative impact on the environment in the capital city of Morowali, can rob the community’s living space and cloud many things such as the loss of people’s livelihoods in the plantation sector. Where the majority of the Morowali people’s daily work is gardening.

Disquiet regarding the impacts of mining if a mining company is built in their area will certainly cause various disasters in the future, so that it will be very influential and disrupt the benefit of many people. Therefore, the community asked the Morowali Student Youth Association (IP2MM)agency to voice their concerns to the Provincial Government of Central Sulawesi.

On June 19, 2023 at the Central Sulawesi Governor’s Office, there were around 80 mass demonstrations from Morowali Students in Palu City who are members of theMorowali Student Youth Association (IP2MM)who have held demonstrations regarding the issue of the issuance of the mining permits.

Head of IP2MM Palu City, Taufik Tamauka stated, the data we obtained from one of the online media, currently there are 10 giant companies that have entered and are operating in Morowali land.

For him, the industrial activities that have been carried out in Morowali Regency have had an economic impact, but the negative impact of mining activities in the area is increasingly being felt by the Morowali community.

Such as problems related to limited infrastructure that many people in villages around the Morowali industrial area experience, including damaged roads, clean water, and environmental sanitation. In addition to the insufficient quantity of roads, the problem of road damage also occurs in all villages around the Morowali industrial area. The damage occurred due to the large number of heavy vehicles belonging to sub-contractor companies that used the roads in these villages for mobility. Road infrastructure in the villages around the Morowali industrial area is easily damaged because in general the village roads are still sandy roads which are muddy during the rainy season and dusty during the dry season.

Therefore, it becomes a concern for the Morowali Community if the mining permits of PT. MMI, which was signed in 2014, will be extended for the next 10 years to operate in the Bungku Tengah District area that was given a permit, namely the Bahoruru Village and Sakita Village areas.

When mining activities are carried out in Bungku Tengah, the entire area in Morowali Regency has been damaged and there is no place to take shelter anymore, because the entire area has been processed into an industrial area.

Taufik Tamauka emphasized in his speech: “Bungku Tengah District is the capital city of Morowali, and is also the administrative center of Morowali Regency. Therefore, we from the Morowali Student Youth Association in Palu City expressed our position to: “REFUSE THE MINING BUSINESS PERMIT IN BUNGKU TENGAH DISTRICT, MOROWALI DISTRICT “.

The field coordinator, Rizky Akbar, in his speech also said: “Morowali today comes with its power as one of the pillars of the national economy by becoming the richest district in Indonesia because of the fast industry that is present and is very large in influencing economic growth.”

“But he continued, it is very unfortunate when the Morowali Regency area today has many problems that arise due to the large number of investments that are present and irresponsible because of company activities that do not pay attention to the community. Not to mention, today’s massive company has even entered the Bungku Tengah District area which is part of the regional government area of Morowali Regency. We certainly will not allow this to continue, and we expressly reject all mining activities in Bungku Tengah and urge the government to immediately repair the road infrastructure used by several companies in Morowali.”

Demonstrations carried out by dozens of demonstrators yielded results, the Provincial Government of Central Sulawesi, in this case the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) agreed on the points of demand that ESDM support the rejection of PT. MMI in Bungku Tengah District.

The Head of the ESDM Service, Rachmansyah Ismail provided a letter of recommendation which contained support for the student’s aspirations to reject the Mining Business Permit of PT. Mineral Morowali Indonesia (PT.MMI) as the holder of a Mining Business Permit for the Operation of Metal Mineral Commodities in accordance with the Decree of the Morowali Regent Number: 188.4.45/Kep.0262/ESDM/2014.

With the following considerations:

  1. PT. MMI’s Mining Business Permit location is close to residential areas, namely Bahomohoni Village and Matano Village, Bungku Tengah District, approximately 11 kilometers.
  2. If PT. MMI’s Mining Business Permit operates; it is feared that it will threaten village/city residential areas and office areas in Bungku Tengah because of the potential for environmental impacts such as floods, landslides, erosion, pollution and social impacts.

The demonstrations welcomed the response from the Provincial Government. However, it is hoped that the agreement will not only be limited to a letter, but with concrete actions so that the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources of Central Sulawesi Province will immediately revoke the mining business permit.

By seeking to revoke existing mining permits in the Bungku Tengah District area, this is also for the sake of saving the future of the Bungku Tengah community from deprivation of living space due to environmental damage polluted by mining industrial activities. The government should handle this problem wisely.


Silvanah is an International Relations Student at the Islamic University of Indonesia who focuses on discussing environmental issues.

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