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Manganese mining in Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

In the 2000s indigenous groups joined forces with Catholic groups against manganese mining on indigenous land., working towards a ban on mining in Manggarai and to prevent renewals of existing mining permits.


Land grabbing indigenous territories for mining through violence, coercion, legal harassment, and privatization has long been an issue throughout Indonesia since Dutch colonial times [1]. This is evident in the case of PT Manggarai Manganese (PTMM) [2]. Although the local government values economic growth and development, this conflicts with indigenous values prioritizing the community and the environment. Recent liberation theology reforms in the Catholic Church, also brought forth a spirit of human rights and environmentalism, which reportedly has led to a partnership against mining in which Catholicism and indigenous religions have united in their support for ecological sustainability [1]. Various religious groups such as the Indonesian Franciscan Congregation Commission on Justice, Peace, and Integrity (JPIC-OFM), Societas Verbi Divini (SVD), the Ruteng Catholic diocese, the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, and others have mobilized against government impunity towards mining companies’ profit accumulation at the expense of indigenous rights since the 2000s, and protested against PTMM and the destructive effects of open-pit mining ever since early 2007, writing petitions and warning the public and local government, drawing upon Pope Francis’ Laudato Si on the integrity of ecology to frame issues about environmental degradation. [4]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Manganese mining in Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
State or province:East Nusa Tenggara
Location of conflict:Manggarai
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Rare metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Manganese is very high in economic value, at more than 125% more profit then the next most valuable commodity in Manggarai, iron sand. Yet agriculture contributes more to the local economy than mining does because mining has remained mainly small-scale. Although potential manganese extraction estimates were at 15.5 million tons, actual production was only 155,000 tons in 2019 [1].

Project area:23,010
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:07/12/2009
Company names or state enterprises:PT Gulf Mangan Grup from Australia
PT Manggarai Manganese from Indonesia
Relevant government actors:East Nusa Tenggara government
Manggarai District Police
Department of Forestry
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Indonesian Franciscan Congregation Commission on Justice, Peace, and Integrity (JPIC-OFM), Societas Verbi Divini (SVD), the Ruteng Catholic diocese, the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, Cultural Survival
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Genetic contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other Health impacts
Other Health impacts"Manganism" or "welders' disease".
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite mass mobilization, the manganese mining project continues, and even more are planned in the future.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[3] OHCHR. Violations of indigenous people’s rights (2011)
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] PCD Journal. A Sustainable Ecology Movement: Catholicism and Indigenous Religion United against Mining in Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia (Arti 2020)
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[6] Zone Line News. Inilah Hasil Investigasi Pemda Matim Di Lokasi Penelitian PT. Manggarai Manganese (2014)
[click to view]

[2] Jatam. Krisis Rakyat di Tengah Pilkada Serentak 2018 (2018)
[click to view]

[9] KSI Indonesia. Local Knowledge to Restore Three Season Markers (2015)
[click to view]

[4] Inside Indonesia. Church-based resistance to mining in Manggarai (Regus 2017)
[click to view]

[5] Cultural Survival. Indonesia Campaign (2020)
[click to view]

[7] PolGov. The Role of the Church in Anti-Mining Actions in Manggarai NTT (2015)
[click to view]

[10] Mines and Communities. Church joins escalating mining fight (2014)
[click to view]

[11] Down to Earth. Indigenous community rejects Lembata mine (2008)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Dalena Tran, ICTA-UAB, [email protected]
Last update16/10/2020
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