MUNTOK, Feb. 22 -- Hundreds of tin miners on Indonesia's tin-producing island of Bangka rallied outside the local parliament demanding revisions to a new law which could hit the industry, a local mining association said on Thursday.
Indonesia's new mining and coal law, passed in December 2008, is considered more nationalistic and is intended to raise more revenue from the mining sector in a country with abundant natural resources.
Small-scale miners on Bangka island are concerned that they may not be allowed to mine tin because some clauses in the new mining law conflict with local government regulations, said Rudi, vice chairman of Association of Traditional Miners in Bangka, who like many Indonesians uses one name.
"There are too many overlapping regulations. We ask the local government to push for revisions in the new mining law," he said after about 300 miners gathered in front of West Bangka legislative council building in Muntok, about 113 kilometres from Pangkal Pinang, the capital of Bangka-Belitung province.
Under the new law, traditional miners are allowed to mine on river banks, whereas such mining in rivers is banned by the local government, Rudi said.
Indonesia supplies nearly 30 percent of the world's tin consumption, most of it coming from Bangka, where about 40 percent of the workforce is involved in tin mining.
Over the past four years, the local industry has been hit by weaker tin prices, a police crackdown on illegal mining, and the depletion of easily mined onshore reserves.
The new mining law also only gives miners the right to apply for a mining permit in a minimum area of 5,000 hectares, whereas traditional miners tend to work much smaller areas.
"This rule would allow only a handful of people to have mining business," Rudi said.
Indonesian police shut a tin smelter in Bangka, citing illegal mining, in recent weeks.
Markus, deputy speaker of the West Bangka legislative council said the council would help lobby the Bangka-Belitung provincial council for a revision on the new mining law.