JAKARTA Dec 24 (Reuters) – At least two people were killed and eight wounded in clashes between protesters and police during demonstrations over a planned gold mine in eastern Indonesia, police said.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in the town of Bima in the West Nusa Tenggara province on Sumbawa island, disrupting port and ferry services.
The gold mining project is a joint venture between Indonesia’s PT Sumber Mineral Nusantara and Australian-listed Arc Exploration Limited, according to the Arc Exploration website (www.arcexploration.com.au).
The company said in its June quarterly report no exploration work was possible in the quarter because of protests.
Women and children were among protesters who have barricaded roads and the town’s port since Monday and a police station and a government office were burnt down, police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution said in a statement.
Siti Maemunah, executive director of the Mining Advocacy Network, said three people had been killed during the protests. Footage on Indonesia’s Metro TV showed police carrying batons and firing warning shots towards protesters.
Bima residents fear mining by will threaten forest areas and drain water resources, Indonesian media have reported. The project has a concession area of 24,980 hectares.
The protest is the latest in a series of tensions in the mining industry in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy over land rights and a push by workers for a greater share of profits.
In November, about 400 workers went on strike in a dispute over working shifts at a gold and copper mine run by Newmont Mining Corp’s Indonesian unit in Batu Hijau in Nusa Tenggara.