Canadian exploration junior East Asia Minerals (EAM) stands to benefit from the apparent imminent reclassification of about 1.2-million hectares of protected forest, on the Indonesian island of Aceh, to ‘production forest’.
The reclassification would pave the way for EAM to proceed with work on its flagship Miwah project on the island.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry was said to be close to accepting a proposal to open 1.2-million hectares of forest for mining, logging, and palm oil production.
“We are very pleased with the recent news from the Indonesian government. These new developments are good progress and positive news for mineral extraction in the area. This will help us realise the full value of our Miwah gold project in Aceh with a NI 43-101-compliant resource of 3.1-million ounces of gold,” EAM CEO Edward Rochette said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Aceh government’s Spatial Planning Committee chairperson Tgk Anwar had recently publicly claimed that the Ministry of Forestry had accepted “almost 100%” of the province’s new spatial plan, which would zone large blocks of previously protected forest.
Aceh has the most forest cover of any province in Sumatra, which had lost 36% of its forests in the past 20 years. The new spatial plan would grant nearly one-million hectares of land for mining, 416 086 ha for logging, and 256 250 ha for palm oil. The plan would also approve an extensive new network of roads that would run through protected forests.
However, the planned forestry reclassification had been met with fierce global resistance from environment groups.
The Coalition of People Concerned for Aceh’s Forests had said the spatial plan included plans to remove the protected status of the entire Tripa peat swamp forest, an area that had received massive international attention owing to illegal activities by palm oil companies destroying a global priority habitat of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, which are still subject to ongoing Ministry of Environment and national police legal action.
EAM said it was working closely with government officials and the company had representatives on the ground in Aceh to obtain reclassification of the forestry zone from ‘protected forest’ to ‘production forest’.
Once forestry designation had been reclassified, the company would be granted the ability to continue the drilling programme with the goal of expanding the Miwah resource. The company was also undergoing a valuation study to define its current status and options on reclassification.
EAM on Monday reported positive results from its Phase 1 drilling programme at the company’s Sangihe project, also in Indonesia, which it would develop first, before making a development decision on the potentially much larger Miwah project.