As the world’s largest nickel producer, Indonesia sits at the crossroads of climate protection, clean energy and human rights. Nickel is one of the key minerals in electric vehicle batteries, and Indonesia is looking to scale up production. However, communities and allies are concerned about increasing environmental and social harms, especially related to mine waste.
Submarine tailings disposal, or the practice of dumping mine waste into the ocean, has been proposed at a series of key nickel mines and processing facilities in Indonesia, including the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park and Obi Island. Toxic mine waste from these projects threaten the Coral Triangle, an area internationally recognized for its coral reefs, turtles and other endangered species.
Earthworks’ Ditch Ocean Dumping campaign works with local organizations to stop the use of this harmful practice. In response to mounting pressure from impacted communities, consumers and electric car companies, the developers of both nickel projects have shelved plans to use submarine tailings disposal keeping tens of millions of tonnes of mine waste out of the Coral Triangle, at least temporarily.
In order to permanently protect Indonesia’s coastal communities and marine ecosystems, the government must uphold its promise to prohibit all future submarine tailings disposal by transforming an informal ocean dumping ban into law. Until then, Earthworks and our allies continue to warn downstream users and financial backers of the risks of this dirty and outdated practice.