History of Gold Mining in Indonesia
Gold mining in Indonesia began more than a thousand years ago with the arrival of immigrants from China who mined gold in several areas, followed by the Hindu Age, Dutch and Japanese occupation. During the Dutch colonial era (1600-1942) the development of gold mining was very limited. Several gold ore reserves discovered during this period were in the Lebong area, namely Lebong Donok and Lebong Tandai, Bengkulu Province. Another gold deposit discovery was in the South Banten area known as the Cikotok gold mine owned by PT Aneka Tambang. Apart from that, there were also other relatively small discoveries of gold deposits.
In 1939, total gold metal production was recorded at 2.5 tons, half of which came from Lebong Tandai. During World War II, all of these gold mines were closed and after the war only a few mines were reopened including the Cikotok Gold Mine. Gold production since the end of World War II until the mid-1980s did not show a significant increase. Total recorded production in 1985 amounted to around 2.6 tonnes, with more than 90% of this amount being a by-product of copper concentrate produced by PT Freeport Indonesia in Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), while the remainder came from PT Aneka Tambang's production in Cikotok .
On the island of Sumatra, gold has long been cultivated by the people. Modern gold mining activity was marked by the opening of the Lebong Donok mine, Bengkulu in 1899. The type of deposit being worked is primary gold deposit. This effort was followed by the opening of other mines such as Simau (1910), Salida (1914), Lebong Simpang (1921) and the Sawah Mine (1923). The Mangani Mine in West Sumatra began production in 1913, the mine operated by the Equator company lasted until 1931, then changed ownership and was reopened in 1939 by Marsman's Algemeen Exploratie Maatschappij or better known as MAEM.
Data on gold production 1996-2011 and photos of the history of its discovery in Indonesia.
Other mines that were opened after the 1930s were the Belimbing area, Gunung Arum in 1935 and managed by the Barisan company, the Bulangsi area was managed by Sumatra Goldmijn Ltd and Muara Sipongi in 1936. Apart from mining primary gold ore, MAEM also exploits gold which is originates from alluvial (secondary) deposits in Meulaboh Aceh which were opened in 1941 and lasted until the outbreak of World War II. Another alluvial gold mine is in Logas Riau and is operated by the Bengkalis company.
In West Kalimantan, the Chinese have been mining gold for a long time, but the results were inadequate compared to the results of gold mining in Sumatra. The gold mines that are developing are small-scale mines operated by the people. The same thing also happened in North Sulawesi.
Primary gold ore deposits found in the Cikotok area began production in 1940 and were operated by the Zuid Bantam company (Anonymous, 1998). The development of the Cikotok gold mine was carried out by NV Mynbouw Maatschappy Zuid Bantam (NV.MMZB) from 1936 to 1939, at that time the factory in Pasirgombong was in production for the first time. Gold ore reserves at that time amounted to 569,041 tons with Au content of 8.4 g/ton and Ag 481 g/ton. The Cikotok and Cikondang gold mines and a number of gold mines in Sumatra (Simau, Lebong, Simpang, Mangani, Logas and Meulaboh) as well as gold mines in North Sulawesi (Tapaibekin) continued to operate despite the outbreak of World War II.
During the Japanese era, these mines continued to operate and were managed by a Japanese company called Mitsui Kosha Kabunshiki Kaisha with the main objective of taking lead from the Cirotan mine for military needs. Between 1945-1948, the
was the year of the struggle for independence, the Cikotok gold mine was controlled by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia under the supervision of the Central Mining Bureau of the Republic of Indonesia.
During the 2nd Dutch military action on December 23, 1948, the Cikotok Mine was again controlled by the Dutch until recognition of sovereignty at the end of 1949. Meanwhile NV.MMZB had returned to continue its business, but the mine and factory suffered heavy damage during the Japanese occupation and during the subsequent revolutionary years. After knowing that rehabilitating and rebuilding the mine requires a lot of money, the company decided to sell the mine to NV Mining Development Company (NV.PPP).
NV Mining Development Company then carried out mine rehabilitation in 1954 and started production in 1957. The last manager of this mine was the Cikotok Gold Mining Unit, but with the depletion of reserves so that it was not economical to exploit, at the end of 1994 the production was stopped and in January 1995 its status changed to the Cikotok Gold and Silver Exploration and Development Project managed by PT Aneka Tambang.
In general, from the 1950s to the 1970s, the gold mining business only carried out or rehabilitated the remaining gold mining companies before the 2nd World War. Gold prospecting activities at that time were not optimal because laws/regulations, government policies regarding gold, prices, etc. did not support the opening of new gold mines.
The pre-World War II gold mines that were rehabilitated by NV PPP, a subsidiary of the State Industrial Bank, were the Cikotok and Logas Mines in Riau. Several former mines before the war were cultivated by the people in the form of community mining, such as in Bengkulu, Kalimantan and North Sulawesi. Private interest only increased after the 1970s with the improvement in gold prices between 1974-1975. In almost all areas containing gold potential, the Mining Authority (KP) has been held by the national private sector or State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN).
Of the 369 Exploration KPs recorded in 1980, there were 56 Exploration KPs for gold consisting of 22 KPs owned by BUMN and 34 KPs owned by national private companies. Meanwhile, at that time there were only 2 Exploration KP owned by PT Aneka Tambang. In 1982 there were 8 Exploitation KPs, of which 3 KPs belonged to the national private sector and the rest belonged to BUMNs. In general, gold mining concessions handled by the national private sector are not running smoothly due to a lack of capital, skills and technology. Important gold mineral discoveries in Indonesia between 1967 and 2005 are recorded in the table below.
Gold discoveries in Indonesia between 1967-2005.
As a result of the exploration activities carried out in the 1980s, at this time some gold mining companies were still in production but some had closed because their ore reserves had run out. In 1990 gold and silver production was produced by PT Aneka Tambang, PT Lusang Mining, PT Ampalit Mas Perdana, PT Monterado Mas Mining, PT Aratutut, PT Bakri Hadis Perdana, PT Tambang Timah Perkasa, and smallholder mining.
Apart from these companies, gold and silver are also produced as by-products in PT Freeport Indonesia's (PT FI) copper concentrate and starting in 2000, PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara has also produced gold and silver contained in the copper concentrate it processes. Until now, Indonesia is one of the countries that has the largest gold reserves in the world, with maximum gold production in Indonesia in certain years.
Data and Photo Sources:
Data of the Director General of Minerals and Coal, Photo Collection Center for Geological Resources.