Indonesia considers legally separating geothermal from mining

Indonesia considers legally separating geothermal from mining Ulu Masen forest, Aceh, Indonesia (source: flickr/DFID, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 16 Jan 2013

Indonesia considers changes to legislation which would qualify geothermal activities differently than mining activities due to less environmental impact.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources is considering to legally separate mining from geothermal given the differences on the environmental impact.

The ministry is looking at a harmonization of regulation as it relates to geothermal, one of the proposed revisions to be to Law No. 27/ 2003 that concerns the use of geothermal heat.

“Article 1 of Law no. 27/2003 defines a source of geothermal heat energy contained in the hot water, steam, and rock with minerals and other gases that are genetically all not be separated in a geothermal system and for its utilization required the mining process.”

Current legislation considers geothermal exploration and hydropower as mining activities, which implies they have the same environmental impact, while geothermal drilling in itself is not effecting the environment as greatly.

That is of particular importance as a lot of discussion is how far geothermal can and should be allowed in protected forest areas of Indonesia, where most of the geothermal resources can be found.

Based on the Ministry of Forestry data, there is around 14 172 mega watt (MW) of potential geothermal reserves is located in forest areas. However, until now it is only 1042 MW or about 7%,that is utilized.

As per last November 2012, the Ministry of Forestry has issued at least nine permits for lend-use forest (IPPKH) of geothermal exploration with a total forest area reached 2317.58 hectares, and issued around six-OP IPPKH geothermal with total area of 423.43 Hectares.”