BHP Borneo coal plans may put ecosystem, orangutans at risk

Conservationists are concerned that BHP's Indomet project plans might damage an area of central Borneo inhabited by endangered orangutans.

The project will result in mass deforestation of the Barito basin in the Kalimantan province, according to international environmental organization, Friends of Earth.

“These are sensitive forests full of biodiversity,” said organization spokesman Nick McClean.

“There has been some logging of the lowland areas in the past but much of the area hasn’t been scientifically surveyed. We could lose species we don’t know anything about."

“In my home village, we have already seen the destructive effects of gold mining occurring in the Barito Basin,” said Arie Rompes of Friends of Earth Kalimantan branch.

“If BHP continues with its plans for open cut mines, it will be a disaster for the local people, and it will be a disaster for these fragile ecosystems."

BHP plans to extract one million tonnes of coking coal from the remote area in 2014 and to eventually ramp up to 10 million tonnes/year.

“Our plans do not include mining in any protection forest areas in central Kalimantan, and any development in central and east Kalimantan will be subject to detailed environmental and social impact assessments, feasibility studies and will require all appropriate permits to be in place before activities commence,” the company said.