Water Management: How PT Agincourt Resources Embodies Responsible Mining Practices 

Oct 20, 2023

Forests are one of the Earth’s greatest natural resources, a key to supporting life on Earth, and the existence of the Batang Toru forest provides many benefits for the society living in the nearby area. It is undeniable that forests provide so many benefits to humans without being asked, both those who live nearby and those who live far from forests. The Batang Toru Forest provides so many commodities for people who live near the forest, like palm sugar, durian, rattan, rambutan, cinnamon, and incense that people can harvest at any time and don’t have to pay. What benefits for those who don’t live in the area around the forest? Batang Toru provides the benefits of clean water and oxygen. 

Water is an essential resource and is used in many different ways. All living things need water to survive including humans that very dependent on the availability of clean water, starting from drinking water, bathing, washing, agriculture, and farming to water for industrial use, all sourced from clean water produced by forests. In Batang Toru, there are 12 headwaters which are the source of water for the large river Batang Toru. 

Responsible Water Management 

We should be grateful that we live in a country that is abundant in natural resources, both above ground and underground resources. All the underground resources need to be mined, including gold. The positive and negative impacts both come together in all of the mining process but the positive benefits derived from gold mining are very high and provide benefits to many people. 

Read Also: Agincourt Resources Conducted Sampling of Processed Water to Ensure Compliance with Standards  

The negative impacts of gold mining must be managed very well and responsibly to provide social, economic, and environmental benefits. One of the impacts of the gold mining industry is acid mine drainage which must be handled seriously according to international safety procedures. Acid mine drainage is formed due to the reaction of sulfide minerals (pyrite) and heavy metals which are exposed to water and air media originating from exposed rocks during mining activities. 

PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR) manages the Martabe gold mine and is highly dependent on supplying water to the Batang Toru River. In this regard, PTAR is committed to carrying out mining operations while also ensuring world-class environmental management. This includes continuous monitoring and supervision of the quality of the remaining process water that flows into the Batangtoru River, with PTAR consistently testing and improving its quality involving an independent laboratory. 

PTAR has strict procedures for managing waste products. PTAR has large holding ponds and processing facilities that make all tailings-processed mines neutral or environmentally friendly. Before releasing the treated residual water into the river, PT Agincourt Resources applies a very strict quality standard test procedure. 

Processed wastewater in large quantities that have not yet reached environmental safety standards is collected in large ponds first, then gradually flowing into the treatment facility when it rains. Water samples that have gone through a series of detoxification processes and have reached standard thresholds are then tested in the laboratory. This neutral water is returned to nature at levels that meet the Batang Toru River water quality standards witnessed by stakeholders. 

“All water treatment and waste treatment facilities belonging to PT Agincourt Resources are under strict tiered supervision starting from the Central Government, the Provincial Government of North Sumatra to the Government of South Tapanuli Regency,” said Wira Dharma Putra, Manager of PT Agincourt Resources. “The water and soil detoxification process in our mine is carried out until it is completely neutral and safe.” 

Read Also: Protecting Batangtoru River Environment, Agincourt Resources Continues to Maintain the Quality Standard of Processed Water

“We collect all the processed waste in the dam we built to store it. If there is an excessive water discharge during the rainy season, we channel that water to our sewage treatment facility before releasing it into the Batang Toru River. Before we release the water, we test it transparently in an independent laboratory in Jakarta. We disclosed the laboratory results before community representatives and local officials. The management of our processed mine residue is under the direct supervision of the Deputy Regent of South Tapanuli,” said Wira. 

“From the processing facility, we channel water that meets the quality standards to the Batang Toru River, while we leave the residue in the reservoir. So, we ensure that materials in the form of solid or liquid objects that come out of the mining area are not harmful to the environment and meet the quality standards of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry,” he added. 

Transparency of Water Management Process 

Each month, the Integrated Team from the government and community elements together with the PTAR Environment Department monitors the quality of the remaining water by taking samples from the Batang Toru River. The water parameters analyzed included water acidity (pH), Total Suspended Solids (TSS), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), cyanide (CN), arsenic (As), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn). 

The water sampling location starts at the inlet and outlet end of the process water pipe, the Batangtoru River at 500 meters before the water discharge point, the mixing point of process water and Batangtoru River water (outfall), as well as 500 meters, 1,000 meters, 2,000 meters, and 3,000 meters downstream from the discharge point. The remaining water sample is then sent to the independent laboratory of PT Intertek Utama Services in Jakarta and the results are socialized and disseminated to the community around the mine. It can be said that the entire series of water treatment processes in the Martabe mine area is completely transparent and not a single process is overlooked. With the openness of the remaining process water management system, PTAR prioritizes the whole series of process residual water management without any engineering. All steps are carried out according to operational procedures and standards. 

Wira Dharma Putra did not just make a claim, but what Wira revealed was also corroborated by research conducted by the Center for Environment and Population, the Research Institute of the University of North Sumatra (USU) which proved that the remaining process water from the Martabe Gold Mine managed by PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR) did not affect the quality of water biota in the Batang Toru River. Meanwhile, routine monitoring conducted by the PTAR Environment Department and the Martabe Gold Mine Water Quality Monitoring Team consistently shows that the remaining process water meets the quality standards set by the government. 

The results of the research were conveyed by the Head of the Center for Environment and Population, the USU Research Institute, as well as USU’s Biology Department Professor, Prof. Dr. Ing. Ternala Alexander Barus, which was conveyed in front of journalists in a virtual gathering event for the month of Ramadan, in May 2021. 

Read Also: Constructed Wetland Technology for Mining Wastewater Treatment

According to Ternala, the study found no decrease in fish length and weight since October 2012. 32 fish species were discovered during the research, not only in the Batangtoru River but also in the waters around the mining operational areas such as in Aek Pahu Tombak and Hutamosu. Apart from fish, plankton and benthos were also found which can be indicators of good water conditions for aquatic biota. All heavy metal concentrations in fish from all samples were far below the dangerous standards set by the Ministry of Health. 

Not only fish, there are other aquatic biota such as plankton and benthos which can be indicators of good water conditions. Ternala stated that Agincourt Resources had made efforts to manage and monitor the quality of the remaining process water which exceeded government regulations. The formation of an integrated team and routine research on the quality of aquatic biota around mining operations demonstrates the company’s commitment to environmental management. 

Ternala detailed several other research sampling locations namely Aek Pahu Hutamosu, Tor Uluala, Garoga, and Aek Bongbongan which empties into the Batangtoru River. The research measured several parameters such as oxygen solubility, water temperature, pH, and so on. As a result, all physical factors still meet water quality standards based on Government Regulation (PP) No. 82 of 2001 concerning Water Quality Management and Water Pollution Control. 

“Based on my observations so far in the extractive industry, only PTAR is committed to environmental management, to involve the community through the Integrated Team, and to regularly work with independent institutions to monitor the quality of aquatic biota.” 

“It should be noted that the water quality and water biota in the Batangtoru River are not only affected by the residual water from the Martabe Gold Mine process but also other activities in the river, one of which is excavation which can increase sedimentation (total suspended solids) and reduce water quality. ,” Ternala said. 

Manager of the Environment Department of PT Agincourt Resources Mahmud Subagya said that the company once a month takes samples of residual water from both the water polishing plant and at several points on the Batang Toru River. “We ensure that the remaining process water that flows into the Batangtoru River has been processed and potential contaminants removed. The entire water purification process complies with permits and is controlled very strictly, to ensure there is no impact on downstream water quality,” he said. 

Read Also: Conservation of the Garoga and Aek Ngadol River, Agincourt Resources Expands Lubuk Larangan by 8 Kilometers

In addition, this entire process is monitored and assisted by an integrated team, to ensure that the results comply with government regulations. Every month, an integrated team together with the Agincourt Resources Environment Department monitors the quality of the remaining water by taking samples from the Batang Toru River. 

“Not only that, but PTAR has also carried out other environmental management efforts to support environmental management, such as rehabilitation. In total, until the end of last year, we had rehabilitated 23.8 hectares and planted 3,640 tree seedlings. PTAR is very committed and serious about environmental management, not only water management. Overall the environmental performance of the Martabe Gold Mine in 2020 also maintained high standard achievements as in previous years, marked by the BLUE rating on the PROPER environmental management system by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment,” concluded Mahmud. 

Director of External Relations of PTAR Sanny Tjan stated that the formation of an Integrated Team consisting of representatives of various elements of society and their participation in routine monitoring is one of the operational transparency efforts carried out by the Martabe Gold Mine. 

The Integrated Team consists of local government representatives, experts from universities, PTAR employee representatives, as well as community representatives from villages around the mine whose members change through the renewal of the North Sumatra Governor’s Decree (SK) every 4 years. The Integrated Team has been formed since 2013. 

Read Also: Environmental Management of Martabe Gold Mine Water Biota Quality in the Batangtoru River is still Maintained

“We always try to ensure that the water treatment system at the Martabe Gold Mine has gone through a high-quality process, complies with permits, and is under very strict supervision, so that it does not have an impact on water quality in the Batang Toru River. Through regular monitoring, dissemination, and dissemination of the results of these laboratory tests, we have obtained authentic data which we hope can become the basis for increasing public and government confidence in the sustainability of business practices and standard operating procedures for the Martabe Gold Mine. We also appreciate the Government of South Tapanuli Regency for routinely overseeing the process of testing the remaining water from this process,” said Sanny. 

PTAR allocated resources of USD 6.45 million in 2020 and USD 9.2 million in 2021 to implement environmental management tasks, including human resources and technology. Rahmat Lubis, PTAR General Manager of Operations, explained that these resources are allocated to ensure quality standards and regulations are met for environmental management at the Martabe Gold Mine site. He also emphasized PTAR’s commitment to biodiversity conservation during animal inspection training activities in December 2021. 


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