Intan Jaya
Intan Jaya, bordered by red line, is located in the middle of West Papua within the region called Pegunungan Tengah, or Middle Mountains.

Intan Jaya conflict (4): Mountain of gold raises concerns for new problems


West Papua No.1 News Portal | Jubi


Jayapura, JubiPapuan Humanity Team on Case of Violence against Religious Figures in Intan Jaya regency, or Humanity Team, has completed the documentation of alleged extrajudicial killings against Protestant pastor Yeremia Zanambani on Sept. 19, 2020. This report documents facts surrounding the killing of Pastor Yeremia.


This report includes analysis of the context of violence in Intan Jaya regency, in particular between Indonesian Military (TNI) and the West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB), which has been happening at the expense of civilians in the regency. This is the fourth from the series published in



Sugapa district in Intan Jaya Regency had a known gold reserve potential and had been part of PT Freeport Indonesia’s Contract of Work (CoW) II in 1991. Freeport’s exploration in Wabu Block in Sugapa had detected a mineral reserve of more than 116 million metric tons, containing gold and silver.


Each ton (1,000 kg) of raw minerals could have an average of 2.16 grams of gold and 1.76 grams of silver. According to an officer from MIND ID, Indonesia’s holding company for three state mining enterprises including Freeport, the estimated gold potential in the block was 8.1 million troy ounce. One troy once is 31 grams.


Read also: Intan Jaya onflict (3): With new regency, new conflicts arise


Freeport returned Wabu Block to Indonesian government early July 2015 as part of the agreement to change Freeport’s CoW into Special Mining License (IUPK). Freeport’s exploration, however, never escalated into exploitation.


However, on Sept. 22 last year, State-owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said during a hearing with Commission VI at the House of Representatives that his office had sent a letter to the Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arifin Tasrif to give Wabu Block to PT Aneka Tambang (Antam), which is also under MIND ID.


Since Feb. 20 last year, the President Director of MIND ID, Orias Petrus Moedak, sent a letter to Papua Governor Lukas Enembe. He asked Papua provincial administration to give recommendation to the central government to give the license to MIND ID.


Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (2): Civilians become victims of TNI-TPNPB war


On Sept. 29, Orias said he had received an answer from Lukas, who asked that the exploitation had to involve province-owned enterprise (BUMD). Orias said Papua province could start a joint venture with Antam. “The technical details of the cooperation could be discussed with the governor. We have cooperated in sharing ownership with Freeport anyway,” Orias said as quoted by


His statement confirmed a circulating leak of a letter from Papua governor dated on July 24 and signed by Lukas Enembe that said the Papua administration supported and recommended license or WIUPK for Wabu Block for 40,000 hectares to MIND ID.


Many worried that the gold mining activities, especially those in the exploitation phase, would worsen the tension and escalate the armed conflicts in Intan Jaya. During exploration phase under Freeport, Intan Jaya’s security was relatively good, especially compared to other Freeport areas in Mimika Regency, where exploitation had commenced for years.


Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (1): Risks of continued violence loom


A Timika Diocese administrator of the Catholic Church, Father Marthen Kuayo, had asked the governor to revoke the recommendation for MIND ID to work on Wabu Block. He was concerned with new social problems emerging from the gold mine that could affect the indigenous group in Intan Jaya Regency.


“Please, revoke the recommendation, if it is really true that the governor signed it. I have worked in Intan Jaya as a priest for seven years, I know the location. The location belongs to Belau, Japugau, and Sondegau. If a company takes over the location, where would the people go?” Marthen said.


Many people are worried that the history of injustice and marginalization would repeat itself if the gold mine operates. Scholars have said that extractive businesses in Papua and West Papua have used security approach, which creates conflicts.


Read also: The family asked to be accompanied by The National Commission on Human Rights for Pastor Yeremias Zanambani’s autopsy.


Moreover, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) has raised their rejection the mining of Wabu Block and has asked the governor to revoke the recommendation. Their rejection would mean they would be ready to fight the mining operation.


With marginalization and security approach loom large along with the opening of Wabu Block, concerns over conflicts seem to be justified.


Topography of conflict in Intan Jaya


Conflicts involving violence from the security personnel or conflicts motivated by electoral politics are new types of conflicts in Intan Jaya. Bobby Anderson, a researcher, made a report in 2015, mapping the topography of security in Papua.


Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (5): A new armed conflict that brings deaths


Anderson mapped out the areas in Papua based on the characteristics of the conflicts. First, conflicts with natural resources and customary rights as the background (gray). Second, conflicts motivated by rivalry between native Papuans and nonnative Papuans, usually happen in areas that have large migrant communities (green). Third, conflicts between tribal groups (yellow). Fourth, areas with violence by security personnel (dark gray). Anderson also paint some area with high level of violent conflicts red.


On his conflict topography map, Anderson painted Pegunungan Tengah, where Intan Jaya is located, with several colors. But he painted Intan Jaya in particular yellow, or area having tribal group conflicts, not areas with records of conflicts involving security personnel.


Reporter: Victor Mambor


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