Indonesia says former senior official a suspect in illegal tin mining probe

By Thomson Reuters May 29, 2024 | 2:12 AM

JAKARTA (Reuters) – The office of Indonesia’s attorney general (AGO) has identified a former official in the mining ministry as a suspect in an investigation into illegal tin-mining, officials said on Wednesday.

The inquiry centres on an alleged deal between state tin miner PT Timah, the world’s fifth largest producer of the refined metal, and fake miners who illegally produced ores from Timah’s own concession and sold them to the company.

The official, Bambang Gatot Ariyono, is suspected of not following proper procedure in expanding a miner’s 2019 output quota by more than two-fold to “facilitate the illegal activity,” an AGO official, Kuntadi, told reporters.

Kuntadi goes by one name, like many Indonesians.

A former director general of minerals and coal in the ministry, Bambang did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

The alleged illegal activities caused state losses running into billions of dollars, Attorney General Sanitiar Burhanuddin told reporters, including some due to environmental damage.

Suspects number 22 so far in the case, which dates between 2015 and 2022, among them a former chief executive, a former finance director at Timah, and executives of other tin mining firms.

Long the world’s largest exporter of the metal, Indonesia’s shipments to global market have been interrupted several times in the past when the government tightened production and export rules.

Last year’s exports of 78,000 metric tons of refined tin are equivalent to about a fifth of global demand.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)