Minister : huge mineral resource potentials in RI`s forest areas

Padang ekspres.net-Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the energy and mineral resource potentials contained in forest areas in Indonesia were still huge.

He said here on Tuesday if they were managed responsibly without causing environmental destruction, the potentials could support the government`s goals of improving the welfare of the people.

"There are a lot of energy and mineral resource potentials in the forest areas such as geothermal energy source, coal, iron ore, silver and others. However we must be very careful when we wish to exploit them," he said when receiving the Energy and Mining Editor Society members.

Zulkifli said coal potentials in the areas in Kalimantan, Bengkulu, Jambi, South Sumatra and Sulawesi could reach 93.4 billion tons.

"The potentials of geothermal energy source are also huge reaching 14,172 MW. So far the installed capacity has only reached 1,042 MW," he said.

He said his office supported fully the government`s program in the energy and mineral resource sector. "We would not hinder mining activities so long as they are done in line with the law," he said.

Citing an example he referred to the office`s decision to tolerate oil and gas and geothermal energy mining in the protected forests up to a 20 hectare area.

"There will never be a license for open mining in the protected or conservation forests that will require a vast land," he said.

To support the policy, the government has issued various regulations including Government Regulation Number 24 of 2010 regarding the use of forest areas and the forestry ministry`s regulation Number 43 of 2008 on references for forest area leasing.

Until the end of October 2010, the forestry ministry has issued licenses for mining activities in around 1.5 million hectares of forest.

The office has also issued licenses for surveys, explorations and general studies on 1.2 million hectares of forests and licenses in principle for the exploitation of 327,000 hectares of forests.

Zulkifli said his office had introduced a new paradigm in forest exploitation which is oriented to forest sustainability and people`s welfare.

Based on that he said his office had produced licenses for 25 cooperatives and 297 community groups covering 31,049 families to exploit 64,932 hectares of forests.

Until October 2010, the ministry has also produced licenses for 222 community groups for the exploitation of 32,791.86 hectares of forests.

In the past year, the forestry ministry has been active encouraging people to plant trees and until October 2010 a total of 1.5 million hectares of land had been reserved for the tree planting drive.(antara)

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