Environmental Management of Martabe Gold Mine Water Biota Quality in the Batangtoru River is still Maintained

Photo: Taking a photo together with journalists from South Tapanuli, Central Tapanuli, North Tapanuli, and Mandailing Natal during the Virtual Media Gathering Ramadan 1442 Hijriah of Agility and Adaptability

Batangtoru, 7 May 2021— A research carried out by the Environment and Population Centre, Research Agency of North Sumatra University (Universitas Sumatera Utara of “USU”) since 2012 proves that there is no significant effect from the processed water of Martabe Gold Mine operated by PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR) to the water biota quality in the Batangtoru River. The results of periodic monitoring conducted by PTAR Environment Department and the Monitoring Integrated Team of Water Quality of Martabe Gold Mine also consistently show the processed water meets the quality standard determined by the government.

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Such matter was conveyed by the Head of Environment and Population Centre, Research Institute of USU, who is also a Professor of Biology Department of USU, Prof. Dr. Ing. Ternala Alexander Barus, during the Virtual Media Gathering for Ramadan 1442 H held by PTAR on Tuesday, 4 May 2021. The communal bond (silaturahmi) event also informed the latest news of this company that was attended by more than 60 journalists from North Tapanuli, Central Tapanuli, Sibolga, Padangsidimpuan, South Tapanuli, and Mandailing Natal.

“From the research result, we find that, there is no decrease in the length and weight of fish since the first research was conducted namely in October 2012. In total, there are 32 species of fish that we found. This research result does not only apply to the Batangtoru River, but also to the waters around the mine operational areas such as in Aek Pahu Tombak and Hutamosu. Not only fish, we also still found other water biota such as plankton and benthos that can become an indicator of good water condition to the life of water biota. All heavy metal concentration that we found inside the fish from all samples, is still far below the hazardous standard stipulated by the Health Ministry,” explained Ternala.

Ternala further expressed, PTAR has conducted efforts of management and monitoring of processed water quality that exceeds the government provisions. The establishment of the Integrated Team and periodic research to the water biota quality around the mine operations, show PTAR’s highest commitment to the environmental management.

“According to my observation so far in the extractive industry, only PTAR is committed to such environmental management, they even involving community through the Integrated Team, and periodically cooperate with an independent agency to monitor the water biota quality.”

Ternala specified several other locations of the research sampling namely Aek Pahu Hutamosu, Tor Uluala, Garoga, and Aek Bongbongan that empty into the Batangtoru River. The research measures several parameters such as oxygen solubility, water temperature, pH, et cetera. In the result, all physical factors still meet the water quality standard based on the Government Regulation (PP) No.82 Year 2001 regarding the Water Quality Management and Water Pollution Control.

“It should be noted that indeed the water quality and water biota in the Batangtoru River are not only affected by the processed water of Martabe Gold Mine, but also other activities in the river, one of which is excavation that can increase sedimentation (Total Suspended Solid) and decrease the water quality,” said Ternala.

Manager of PTAR Environment Department, Mahmud Subagya, mentioned that the company routinely, once a month conducts sampling of processed water both from the Water Polishing Plant and in several existing points in the Batangtoru River.

“We make sure the processed water flowed into the Batangtoru River has been processed and its potential contaminants have been removed. The entire water polishing process has complied with the permits and been strictly controlled, to ensure that there is no impact on downstream water quality. Moreover, all these processes are monitored and assisted by the Integrated Team, to make sure that the results meet the government provisions namely the Decree of Environmental Minister No. 202/2004 regarding the Waste Water Quality Standard for businesses and/or activities of Gold and/or Copper Ore Mining, and the Regulation of the Minister of Environment and Forestry No. P.68/MENLHK/Setjen/Kum.1/8/2016 regarding the Domestic Waste Water Quality Standard.”

The Integrated Team currently in charge is based on the Decree of North Sumatra Governor No.188.44/1807/KPTS/2019 regarding the Monitoring Integrated Team of Waste Water Quality of Martabe Gold Mine to the Batangtoru River in South Tapanuli District. The Integrated Team consists of the representatives of regional government, experts from a university, representatives of PTAR employees, and representatives of community from villages/kelurahan around the mine whose members are changed through the renewal of Decree of North Sumatra Governor every 4 years. The Integrated Team was established in 2013.

Every month, the Integrated Team along with PTAR Environment Department monitor the the processed water quality through sampling in the Batangtoru River. The water parameters analysed among others are the level of water acidity (pH), Total Suspended Solids (TSS), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), cyanide (CN), arsenic (As), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn). The water sampling locations are started from the inlet point of the processed water pipelines and outlet point of the processed water pipelines, the Batangtoru River in 500 meters before the water disposal point, mixture points of the processed water and the Batangtoru River water (outfall), and 500 meters, 1,000 meters, 2,000 meters, and 3,000 meters after the water disposal. The samples of processed water are later delivered to an independent laboratory of PT Intertek Utama Services and the results are also socialized and disseminated to the community around the mine.

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“In addition, PTAR also makes other environmental management efforts to support the environmental management, such as rehabilitation. In total, up to the end of last year, we have rehabilitated as much as 23.8 hectares and planted 3,640 tree seeds. PTAR is highly committed and serious to the environmental management, not only the water management. Overall, the environmental performance of Martabe Gold Mine in 2020 also maintains a high standard of achievement as in previous years, indicated by the BLUE rank in the environmental management system of PROPER by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment,” Mahmud concluded.

Foto: Berfoto bersama pada jurnalis dari Tapanuli Selatan, Tapanuli Tengah, Tapanuli Utara dan Mandailing Natal di sela-sela Virtual Media Gathering Ramadan 1442 Hijriah Agility and AdaptabilityPhoto: Taking a photo together with journalists from South Tapanuli, Central Tapanuli, North Tapanuli, and Mandailing Natal during the Virtual Media Gathering Ramadan 1442 Hijriah of Agility and Adaptability