For several years, the Forum on Corporate Responsibility (the Forum) has provided advice to BHP Billiton on the social and environmental aspects of our IndoMet Coal (IMC) Project, located in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
In March 2015, four members of the Forum visited IMC to experience the Project and in response to community concerns, speak directly with a range of stakeholders.
The Forum members were based at BHP Billiton’s Muara Tuhup Port camp, on the banks of the Barito River, which is home to 38 IMC employees during their rostered time on site. From there, the group visited Puruk Cahu (the capital of the Murung Raya district); Penda Siron (a local village); and Liang Karo (a community forest conservation area). The visiting Forum members also travelled along the haul road to the new IMC Haju mine site and along the Barito River, where barges transport coal 600 kilometres to the southern coast of Borneo.
Production from the IMC Haju mine is expected to commence in FY2016.
Key positives noted during the visit included the commitment of the IMC technical specialists and project leaders to operate in a way that will provide broad social benefits to the people of the region and Indonesia more broadly; the focus on tailoring employment and local procurement opportunities to enable participation of local communities; and the environmental management and monitoring processes that have facilitated the development of a significant body of knowledge on local conservation values.
However, it was acknowledged that the socio-political context in which the Project operates is complex and presents a significant challenge, specifically in relation to Indigenous peoples and governance capacity. Opportunities exist to deepen knowledge of, engage with and support traditional Dayak governance structures and Forum members advised that the Company must continue to work closely with local Dayak communities and government to enable all community members to have the opportunity of fully sharing in the benefits of the Project.
The Forum members reported that the field visit provided them with an overview of the conservation values of the area, the IMC Project and its potential impacts and opportunities.
Forum member, Greg Bourne, said: ‘Overall, the trip was invaluable. Seeing the existing impacts on the forests and spending time with Dayak communities helped me fully understand the context of the Project, which was completely different from my prior knowledge and could not have been reset any other way.’