Some of the ecological problems associated with Gold in Indonesia include depletion of the resource, land erosion, human conflict and illegal gold mining and illegal trade (McMahon et al vii; 6). For many years, Indonesia has been relying on gold as one of the most valuable resources. Therefore, a lot of emphasis is given to how the resource should be mined and used for the benefit of the country’s economy. Recently, there have been concerns over the environmental degradation, if the current mining methods continue to be used (ix).
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Most of the gold that is mined in Indonesia is exported to other countries. Only a small portion of gold is used domestically. This has made gold to be one of the most sought out natural resources in the country. Therefore, this makes the resource vulnerable to both illegal mining and illegal trade (xi). In this context, various and uncertified gold miners mining methods have been used to mine the resource. As a result, a lot of depletion of the resource is taking place at a very high rate.
On the other hand, there are ethical issues that surround gold mining. For example, communities that live near gold mines are not direct beneficiaries of the resources. Basically, mining corporations have failed to consider such communities when setting up mining plants by giving out jobs.
Moreover, the technology used for mining gold in Indonesia has been alleged to have negative implication to human health. Some of the large-scale miners in Indonesia have been accused of not compensating their workers fairly, amidst mining one of the most valuable resources in the world (5).
Precisely, the risks associated with large scale mining of gold indicate that miners are at risk of major accidents (xi). Another significant environmental issue is the loss of forest cover. Once these forest covers are lost after the clearance of mining fields, little is done to ensure that there is good soil management (5). Moreover, miners are unable to maintain good drainage system around areas that are termed as gold fields (xi).
The natural gold resources in Indonesia have been instrumental in improving the country’s economy, as well as the livelihoods of the populations. Indonesia has been able to trade globally by using gold. In addition, the Indonesian gold mines have created jobs for thousands of Indonesians. On the other hand, the Indonesian government has been able to collect revenue from gold income.
Indonesia is prone to several natural hazards. For example, flooding is a common environmental hazard in most regions in the country. In the last few decades, Indonesia has witnessed some of the most prolific tsunamis and earthquakes recorded in history. An example of such disasters has occurred severally in areas such as Mentawi islands and Sumantra. In most of these disasters, volcanic eruptions are usually evidenced.
Forest fires are also known to be natural disasters in Indonesia. Nevertheless, the relationship with gold mining and the natural hazards is relatively positive. In this perspective, some of the mining activities results to the mentioned natural disasters. For example, clearing of forest can result to disastrous forest fires. In addition, drilling of the earth cluster can distort the cluster plates underneath thus creating a disruption of the tectonic plates.
This disruption is a major cause of earthquakes and consequently volcanic eruptions. As indicated earlier, clearing of forests and mismanagement of soils in cleared lands can lead to creation of flooding zones, if a good drainage system is not created within and around the mining locations.
McMahon, Gary, Subdibjo, Elly, Aden, Jean, Bouzaher, Aziz, Dore, Giovanna. & Kunanayagam, Ramanie. Mining and the environment in Indonesia: long-term trends and repercussions of the Asian economic crisis. EASES Discussion Paper Series, November 2000. Print.