According to the Financial Times, “[D]eforestation, coupled with waste, pollution, high carbon emissions and displacement of villages, has put pressure on the government and miners to clean up their act and on carmakers to search for alternative sources of nickel, such as Australia. President Joko Widodo said in March Indonesia would step up scrutiny of the sector and tell companies to reforest depleted mining regions. (…) Environmental groups and analysts have warned Indonesia could repeat mistakes made in the palm oil industry, associated with rampant deforestation, unless more steps are taken to protect forests from nickel mining.”

In August 2023,the former director general of Minerals and Coal of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources,along with several other officials, was arrested for alleged corruption of nickel ore mining inSoutheast Sulawesi,accused of facilitating unlawful mining. According to Publish What You Pay (Indonesia), “This case confirms that corruption in the mineral and coal mining sector is categorized as ‘state capture,’ where corruption is not merely administrative involving bribes or facilitation payments, but corruption through its roots, namely corruption through regulations.”

In addition to the pay-to-play accusations involving State capture, nickel mining in Indonesia is unfortunately a classic case that pits community members against the State’s and companies’ development interests.

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