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Exploiting Indonesia’s Seabed Minerals – Two Different Regulatory Regimes

24 May 2024 Natural Resources, Energy and Environment

The Government has recently announced the determination of seven new locations in which so-called “sea sand mining” may take place.

The recent announcement follows important regulatory changes last year that make possible the legal resumption of Indonesian sea sand exports for the first time since 2003.

Although colloquially referred to in the popular press as “sea sand mining”, sea sand exploitation activities, in the newly determined locations, are not being regulated as a traditional mining activity as such. Instead, sea sand exploitation is being regulated as part of the management of marine sedimentation byproducts for the purpose of marine ecosystem/environment protection.

Given that Indonesia already has a well-established regulatory regime for seabed metal mineral and coal exploration/production operation activities, there is clearly potential for conflict and confusion between what are now two distinct regulatory regimes for the exploitation of Indonesia’s seabed mineral resources.

Environmental groups and support organizations for local fishermen have also expressed considerable reservations about any expansion of permitted sea sand exploitation activities and, more particularly, the possible resumption of sea sand exports given the unfortunate history of Indonesian sea sand export activities.

In this article, the writer will review and contrast the two very different regulatory regimes that now exist for seabed metal mineral/coal mining and sea sand mining as well as the overlaps between the two regulatory regimes.