From the use of electronics, electricity and telecommunications to transportation, all our infrastructure involves the use of copper. It was thanks to the use of copper that human civilization left the Stone Age and entered the Bronze Age. Initially, humans only mined copper ore when its copper content was high enough, including ‘native copper’ with 100% copper content, which produces very little mining waste. The tools were still simple, the need for copper was still relatively low, and it wasn’t efficient to mine and process ore containing low copper content.
In modern times, particularly since the discovery of electricity, advancements in mining and extraction technology have enabled copper exploitation on a massive scale. With powerful modern equipment capable of large scale exploitation, copper mining now supports many aspects of modern life. Even ore containing less than 2% copper is now mined, generating much more slurry waste per metal unit recovered, and resulting in extensive environmental damage.
Meanwhile, mining has not helped local people around the mining sites and tailings zones to modernise in terms of their housing, or supporting their healthy traditional fishing and food gathering. The community’s livelihoods at the mine site remain underdeveloped, and they live with deteriorating environmental conditions due to mine waste disposal. One of the communities experiencing severe negative impacts of mining is the coastal area of Mimika District, Papua Province, Indonesia.
This issue needs urgent public and government attention, so that the life of the local community can still develop within a healthy living environment. This report is an effort to raise public and government awareness of the lives of the local traditional communities around the tailings sites of Freeport Indonesia.