Following a comprehensive phase of detailed planning and preparation at the Martabe Gold Mine (“Martabe”) to map biodiversity-related risks and mitigation measures relating to its operations, Martabe is set to begin targeted exploration and development work.
The Martabe Biodiversity Advisory Panel, comprising independent scientists who advise the mine on biodiversity-related matters, has assessed and approved the proposed plans, having conducted on the ground field work, evaluated independent research and engaged with key local and international stakeholders.
The mine is operated under a controlled development method—in which stages of mining, including exploration, are prudently assessed and monitored by the Biodiversity Advisory Panel utilising relevant scientific methodology.
Targeted exploration work
In line with the mine’s agreed Contract of Work, exploration work will resume in the Tor Ulu Ala (“TUA”) area north of the current mine, covering a total area of around 1 hectare (Ha).
The area in which exploration activity will take place is located outside the boundaries of the Protected Forest area, in which no development is permitted. Exploration is an essential stage of development to advance understanding of mineral deposits and viability of the area prior to making a decision on whether to proceed with future development. The exploration activity, which has been designed to be as low impact as possible on the surrounding environment, involves drilling a series of boreholes at 16 sites, each approximately 25 x 25 meters in size. All but three of the sites have previously been the subject of exploration activity. Immediately after drilling is finished, all equipment will be removed and the site will be rehabilitated through local tree replanting from the mine’s nursery, where native pioneer species are grown in mycorrhizal-injected soil, allowing the forest to return as quickly and as naturally as possible.
Any subsequent mining activities of reserves found in this area will only take place following additional extensive planning and preparation, which would involve the relevant authorities and other key stakeholders, as well as a comprehensive on-site survey and assessment by the Biodiversity Advisory Panel.
New dry tailings facility & mining pit stability work
To maintain safe and uninterrupted operations, the mine needs a new dry tailings facility to the west of its current footprint. This development is essential to continue production from existing mine pits, as the existing wet tailings storage facility nears capacity. Dry tailings further improve environmental safety and minimise water usage.
The new facility will occupy approximately 78 Ha, mainly consisting of secondary or degraded forest and former plantation land.
Once the current wet tailings storage facility reaches capacity, that area will be rehabilitated through replanting, reducing the mine’s overall footprint.
PT Agincourt Resources also needs to clear an additional around 20 Ha of land, mostly in the immediate surrounding perimeters of the existing mining pits. This land is already degraded and will be cleared to ensure proper slope stability and effective mine drainage.
Proactive biodiversity risk mitigation measures
Together, these works will ensure Martabe’s long-term operational stability and safety, helping support the jobs of more than 3,000 people from nearby communities.
PT Agincourt Resources is committed to balancing business growth with social well-being and environmental sustainability in the communities where it operates. As part of the preparation and planning for these works, therefore, the relevant areas have been extensively surveyed to ensure proper identification and mitigation of biodiversity and conservation risks associated with the local wildlife, including the Tapanuli Orangutan.
Furthermore, an additional third-party survey based on detailed satellite images was commissioned to better inform its planning and preparation. A formal statement has been published by the Biodiversity Advisory Panel in connection with the proposed works [Statement Letter].
Throughout 2023, PT Agincourt Resources has continued to work on various biodiversity measures under its Biodiversity Action Plan, at each stage operating in close consultation with the Biodiversity Advisory Panel.
At the recommendation of the Biodiversity Advisory Panel, an area of 101 Ha originally designated to be developed for a new dry tailings facility close to one of the existing pits has been cancelled. In addition to cancelling this development, PT Agincourt Resources has committed to the protection of this area. A detailed mapping exercise that sets out the baseline for future area enrichment programs has been completed, and this will be followed in 2024 by the commencement of community patrolling around the area to minimize illegal activities and human-orangutan conflicts.
In addition, PT Agincourt Resources has been working on various other conservation initiatives including:
- The establishment of a new orangutan research station. The initial design of this new facility has been completed and the facility is expected to be operational in 2024. The scientific community’s involvement will be expanded with the establishment of this station inside the operational area to advance understanding and develop programs to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity. The station plans to be able to host up to 30 researchers at any one time.
- Expanding biodiversity protection and conservation initiatives beyond the Martabe area. An ambitious conservation program to protect areas of Batangtoru forest critical to the long-term viability of the Tapanuli Orangutans is advancing following biodiversity and social mapping in 2023.
PT Agincourt Resources has been proactively addressing biodiversity protection more broadly in the local area through the support for and implementation of other projects aimed at protecting the environmental landscape. In the last two years, it has contributed to the rejuvenation of more than 20 Ha of mangroves in the nearby coastal city of Sibolga. This is an addition to consistent support by PT Agincourt Resources to various local conservation NGOs involved in the eradication of illegal trading and killing of wildlife (Scorpion), the rescue of Sumatran Tigers (Barumun Sanctuary), and Orangutan research and protection (YEL).