Industrial mining in Indonesia accounts for 45% of global tropical deforestation

Out of 26 countries, Indonesia accounted for 58.2% of the tropical deforestation directly caused by industrial mining activities. The data covered 26 countries representing 76.7% of the total tropical deforestation observed from 2000–2019.

58.2% of 76.7% is 45%, therefore industrial mining in Indonesia accounts for 45% of global tropical deforestation.

Coal extraction in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan drove the deforestation in the country. The deforestation from iron ore and gold mining in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais was clearly visible in the satellite data, while bauxite and gold mining were predominant in Ghana and Suriname.

For Indonesia, Brazil and Ghana, tropical deforestation from industrial mining peaked from 2010–2014 but continues today. Coal mining in Indonesia in particular doubled in this time period as output grew to match increased demand from China and India. The scope of forest destruction in the country stood out in the study, especially in East Kalimantan which lost 19% of its tree cover in the past two decades. The province, the center of coal mining for the country, hosts the construction site of the future national capital Nusantara, a city being built where a timber plantation once stood—and a tropical forest before that.

“There is a broad range of environmental damage caused by mining operations on top of deforestation, including destruction of ecosystems, loss of biodiversity, disruption of water sources, the production of hazardous waste and pollution,” said Stefan Giljum, lead author of the study and associate professor at the Institute for Ecological Economics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.

From 2002 to 2021, Indonesia lost 10 million hectares of humid primary forest, and 29 million hectares of tree cover; an 18% loss of tree cover.