Images from Indonesia – Miners document life in lockdown
By Richard Gutierrez - April 23, 2020
The COVID-19 virus has spread to all of Indonesia’s 34 provinces, including North Sulawesi where the Artisanal Gold Council has two project areas working with artisanal miners. The photos below – some taken by AGC staff and some by miners themselves – show the changes that have overtaken their lives since the district and village governments began implementing social distancing, quarantines and lockdowns.
The COVID-19 Shock: “The ASGM situation in Indonesia has remained largely stable as the country braces for the expected spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19 and its accompanying quarantine and travel restrictions. Gold prices in the field remained steady for the past 3 weeks. We are beginning to see a glimpse, however, of what the initial COVID-19 shock will look like in various ASGM communities.”
Roadblocks: “These suddenly came up last week as each village began to block entry into their area. This has disrupted movement to and from the facility and mineral processing operations in Tatelu, North Sulawesi.”
The First Local Case: “Last week, a confirmed case of COVID-19 was detected in the village of Talawaan, a village adjacent to Tatelu where AGC’s project facility is located. The village government of Talawaan and local residents immediately barricaded all access roads to Talawaan, effectively choking access to Tatelu. While transportation was still available, access to Tatelu became very difficult. Travellers ran the gamut of checkpoints, inspections, and the heated requests from worried residents to turn back, making entry to Tatelu village nearly impossible for non-community members. Formal buyers no longer have access to the village, and most miners are now beginning to sell their gold to local traders who live in the village.”
Community Reaction: ” The local mining cooperative in Tatelu has prohibited miners living outside the village from working in Tatelu, as a precaution. The move has effectively cut 40% of the cooperative’s workforce and placed the non-Tatelu miners without income for the foreseeable future.”
Masks and supplies: Part of the AGC project’s outreach to the mining community in Tatelu and Tobongon, North Sulawesi where our facilities are located. “There were no social distancing regulations in place in the area. The AGC mobilized a women’s cooperative it had helped organize through its PERS project to distribute cloth face masks (surgical masks and hand sanitizers were no longer available) to visitors and community members to help raise awareness about the virus and how the virus is spreading.”
Ongoing Monitoring:The AGC and its local partners Yayasan Emas Artisanal Indonesia and Lentera Kartini are continuing to monitor the situation in the AGC project areas in North Sulawesi and Central Kalimantan as well as other ASGM areas in Indonesia.
Richard Gutierrez is the AGC’s Project Manager in Indonesia
The Artisanal Gold Council has partnered with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) (CAD $7.4 million) to create scalable models for a socially and environmentally responsible and economically sustainable ASGM sector in Indonesia, at targeted sites in Central Kalimantan and North Sulawesi. The five-year Project (2015-2020) aims to (i) improve technical, environmental, health, and gender equitable practices for men and women involved in artisanal mining, their communities, and related businesses; (ii) enhance policy and government support for ASGM activities at local, provinical, and national levels in Indonesia; and (iii) increase the trade of and social investment in responsible ASGM gold in Indonesia.
For more information see the AGC’s Indonesia Project Website: https://pers.no-hg.org/welcome/