Artisanal Mining Workshop

Indonesia is one of the countries with the largest number of artisanal gold miners in the world. An artisanal miner, also known as a small-scale miner, is an individual or group of individuals who operate informally with little mechanical assistance to produce gold or other commodities. In the West Nusa Tenggara province in Indonesia it is estimated that 22,000 people participate in artisanal small-scale gold mining and produce upwards of 400kg of gold per annum and contributes about $22 million US to the economic activity of Indonesia. The scope of artsinal mining in the WNT province and the impact it has on people and environment are the driving forces for an annual Artisinal Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) workshops.

This year the workshop was called “Planning for the sustainable future of ASGM in the West Nusa Tenggara Province.” It began with an introduction from the university President, Prof. Sunarpi, and a presentation from Dr. Dewi Krisnayanti who put the scale of ASGM in perspective and also touched on the detrimental health impacts that can be experienced with some of the processes the artisanal miners use. Using mercury to recover gold often results in mercury losses in the tailings, this mercury ends up in drinking water, rice, and fish and eventually into the miners themselves. There are 85,000 tonnes of tailings discharged on Lombok alone. This can lead to skin lesions, cancer, kidney disease, and overall poor health.

Dr. Marcello Veiga from UBC then gave a presentation on International trends in ASGM and how he has learned to teach and improve the ASGM practices. He touched on simple processes that can be used to recover gold using homemade devices and easily accessible reagents. Dr. Veiga also elaborated on the artisinal mining teaching facility he has worked on in Ecuador and the excellent impacts it has had on the artsinal miners from all parts of the world that choose to come and visit and learn at the center.



Day 2 was spent visiting different artisanal mines and processing facilities. The first mine produced about 120kg of ore per day at approximately 50 g/t gold. The ore was sold to a processing facility that would process the ore. The ore was treated with mercury in the ball mill (1kg or mercury per trommel) and then was treated with cyanide. A rough calculation indicates recoveries of no more than 15% gold. The second site did not include grinding, the miners were expected to bring ground ore to the facility where they would process it. The slurry was mixed with mercury and was put into one of the tanks for cyanidation. The tailings were stored in an area directly beside a channel that led to the ocean. The storate area was known to leak CN-Pb complexes directly into the channel. The last site visited was an old tailings area that was now being used as a farm for growing rice. The rice has the highest level of Pb in the world. This site was a research facility for phytomining, performed by Dr. Christopher Anderson. Phytomining uses the ability of plants to absorb metals into their leaves to remove metals from the tailings and recover them for sale. The research was being done using different kinds of plants on small patches of tailings. The research is still in its infancy.

Entrance to a underground working

Trommels using mercury to recovery gold.

Cyanide tailings dam

Batu Hijau Mine Tour

After a few days in Senggigi for some R and R and a Gillis Island tour we were picked up at our hotel to begin our trip to Newmount’s Batu Hijau operation. The bus took us 3 hours across Lombok to a ferry which we boarded and took across to Sumbawa the island east of lombok. After the ferry we were picked up by a bus and driven to the Batu Hijau town-site where we had lunch. After eating lunch different departments within Batu Hijau presented on various aspects of their operation. Some of the highlights of the presentations are included below:

Started mining 1986
The pit is 2.5 km wide
Current elevation of the pit is 240m below sea level
Final design of the pit is to be 3km wide and 435m below sea level
Bench height is 15m
There are 8 shovels in their pit with 111 haul trucks and 10 drills
They mine 500,000 tpd off rock
Newmount has a huge stockpile which they mine from when they are not mining ore in the pit.

Mineral Processing

Mixture of oxidized ore from the stockpile and ore from the pit.
the ore consists of 15 to 20% bornite and 70% chalcopyrite
It processes 100 000 tpd of ore with average grade of Cu of .25% and a .5 g/t of Au
They produce 180 million lbs of Cu and 50000 oz of Au a year.

Instead of a tailings dam the tailings are pumped into the deep sea as they contain no toxic materials.
This material is dumped at 125m below surface
There is a wide range of monitoring in the local area on the impact this has on it.
the mine is located in a large jungle and wildlife is all around
water management is very important as it rains alot so they have a complicated water system to prevent contamination

There are 114,754 people that live on Sumbawa
Batu Hijau is committed to creating a positive impact on the local community and they have a series of initiatives that include malaria presentation, nutrition education, sponsoring projects, scholarships, training programs, helping to create local businesses among other similar initiatives.

After these informative presentations we then got to settle into our rooms in camp. After settling in we were driven down to some of the local beaches which were AMAZING! Batu Hijau is located in a very beautiful place which probably some of the best beaches in the world. After a few beaches we were then driven back to site as we ate in the mess and went to bed. After a nice sleep we got up nice and early so could get a tour of the mine and the plant.

The pit looked massive and you could see all the shovels scattered throughout the pit. We watched the haul trucks get loaded up with material and drive up to the also huge waste dump. Currently only waste is being mined and the stockpile is being loaded into the plant. The pit looked absolutely massive. After a few photos we got a tour of the plant which was also massive. It was interesting to see this huge plant with open walls surrounded by just jungle. We got to see their 2 SAG mills, 4 ball mills and their massive floatation cells.

It was a great tour, the Newmount staff were very welcoming and kind to all of us. This was a great tour and looked like a top notch operation. I would like to thank Newmount for allowing this to happen as it was a great experience.

Open 1




After a long and exciting morning we began to make our way back to Lombok where we will begin a Artisnal Mining Workshop hosted by the Mataram University.

R and R in Senggigi

So after a 8 hour drive and a 2 hour plane we arrived in Senggigi on Lombok. Senggigi is the tourist area on Lombok. It is located on the western side of the island on a long beautiful beach. We are staying here for 2 days as we wait to go to Newmounts Batu Hijau. During these days we went on a day tour to the Gillis islands for some snorkeling and beach time. It will be a good rest from all the traveling just before the last week of the trip as we get super busy with the Batu Hijau tour and the Artisan Mining Workshop at the University of Mataram.



Kutai National Forest

So we spent the day visiting the Kutai National Forest. In the morning we went to go see some orangutans at a local research center. Once we arrived the guides hurried us into the forest as they had been following a mother and a child orangutan for us. After a 10 minute hike we found the two orangutans and got to watch them for almost a hour. After this we went back to Sangata to grab lunch. After lunch we went to another part of the National Park to go on a hike. The hike was a blast where we ended up soaked in sweat, trekking though the mud and climbing on old rickety bridges. It was a lot of fun and exciting hike. We are now eating dinner at our hotel as we get ready for traveling to Lombok tomorrow.


The mother orangutan.


The group after a long hard hike.

It was quite interesting to see the surrounding area. The jungle was very different to what we are used too in Canada so it was worth it being able to go explore.

PT KPC Mine Tour

The group was pretty excited to head to our first mine – Kaltim Prima Coal Operations. We were welcomed onto site by one of the mine managers, who gave us our induction presentation and explained the overall layout of the site before we got started. KPC is a massive operation, producing 50 million tonnes of thermal coal per year. There are several huge pits on the property, which they mine using hydraulic shovels and a fleet of around 150 300+ tonne payload trucks. Big!

We were first taken to a lookout point over the Bintang pit – breathtaking!! The pit was 1km across and 1.5 km long, with a current depth of 180m projected to 350m depth. From thelookout we could see many of the coal seams in the end walls of the pits, which we were told they are mining around 200 seams! They also blast an average of 4 times per day to keep up with production.



Next we drove down into the mine alongside all the massive haul trucks, and stopped in the pit for a better view of a shovel and the trucks. We probably could have stayed there all day, captivated by the trucks being loaded by the shovel, as excited as little kids, but we had to continue with the tour!



From the mine we were taken for a tour of the wash plant, which only washes 1.5 million tonnes of the 50 million mined before going to port. a 13km long conveyor then transports the coal from the mine property to the coast, where KPC has a port for loading coal. The conveyor moves at 9m/s to transport around 4000 tph.

After lunch, we were taken to a reclamation area of the property, where the area has been completely revegetated. The main plan for reclaiming the area is to create a tourist attraction and some agriculture, in order for the local town, Sangatta, to be more self sufficient when the mine is no longer there. We were able to see the cows and chickens they have in the area to also provide some agricultural education for the locals.

the group went to tour their loadout facility, where we got to go up in the control bridge where they monitor the loading of the freighters and barges. On a regular day, they can turn around a ship in about 20 hours. The storage facilities at the port are capable of storing 1 million tonnes of coal on the ground – huge! Next, we were then taken to the company diving dock, where we were fortunate to be given a boat tour of the loadout area from the ocean! Dinner at the dock brought the tour to an end, what a fantastic day!



Our Trip to Sangatta So Far.

We arrived in Sangatta, East Kalimantan yesterday and spent the morning at KT KPC’s operation here. It was quite interesting. There will be a post later tonight on our full visit.

The trip here was quite long but very interesting. We started our trip leaving Bali at 8 am and flying to Balikpapan and we arrived by early afternoon. After settling in and checing in our hotel we went to a restaurant that was right on the water. It was quite beautiful and the food was great. We got to see the sun set on the water.

AFter spending the night in Balikapan we set out to drive 8 hours to Sangatta. The road was a bit rough but watching all the local people on the side of the road was lots of fun. On our way we stopped at the equator where we got to take photos and see a monument that was built at the exact location of the equator. After our eight hour drive we arrived in Sangatta and checked into our hotel.

We spent this morning at the mine where we got a tour of PT KPC’s operation. Kelsey Shrugg will write an entire post on our complete visit with photos tonight.

I am having trouble uploading photos so I will try to update this post with photos until time.


First Couple Days in Bali

After everyone arriving safely we spent the first day and a half getting used to the hot temperatures, high humidity and crazy traffic. We all explored the town around our hotel, got to walk down the beach and practiced our bartering skills. Our hotel has a nice pool that is quite useful for cooling off.

Today was our third day in Bali and we spent it travelling around the island visiting a few of the local tourist attractions. Our day started nice and early as we got onto the bus and traveled to a local theater where we watched a traditional Bali dance. After the dance we got back into the bus where we then headed too a few local shops where we got too see local jewelry and fabric being made. For lunch we headed to a restaurant that had a wonderful view of a volcano. The food served at the restaurant was traditional Balinese food.


After lunch we went to a Hindu water temple where we got to witness a local cleansing ceremony. On our way back down from the templer we stopped for some Luwak coffee. As we found out this coffee is processed through the Luwak digestion system before being roasted and prepped for coffee.


On the way back to our hotel we stopped at monkey forest where both Dr.Hitch and Dr.Marcello had some funny interactions with the monkey population.


We then went back to our hotel where we are getting ready to head to Balikpapan tomorrow to visit a few open pit coal mines that are operated by PT KPC.

Final Intinerary

Our class is leaving on May 3rd and we will arrive in Bali on May 4th. Our updated itinerary is listed below.

May 3rd: Leave Vancouver
May 4th: Arrive in Bali
May 6th: Bali volcano tour
May 7th: Fly from Bali to Balikpapan
May 8th Bus from Balikpapan to Sanagatta
May 9th: Tour the PT KPC Sangatta Mine
May 10th: Tour the Kutai National Park
May 11th: Bus to Balikpapan and fly to Mataram City
May 14th: Bus to Batu Hijau and begin our mine induction
May 15th: Batu Hijau Mine Tour and travel back to Mataram City
May 16th: Begin our ASGM Workshop Day 1
May 17th: ASGM Workshop Day 2
May 18th: Fly from Mataram back to Bali
May 19th: Leave Bali and Arrive in Vancouver

We will try to keep this blog updated throughout the trip. If you have any questions please email us or comment below.