This story is part of a global project, “Engaging communities in a just transition”, launched by the EITI in early 2022 with support from the Ford Foundation. Implemented in four communities in Colombia, Ghana and Indonesia, this two-year project explores how the energy transition is impacting community livelihoods and the obstacles that communities face in accessing and using data and dialogue platforms. It seeks to strengthen the EITI’s role in ensuring that community priorities are better taken into account in public debate and decision-making on the energy transition.
North Morowali in pictures
In 2022, the EITI commissioned a photo project capturing communities and nickel mining activities in North Morowali.
The villages of Tiu and Maralee are located in North Morowali on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island. The villages are isolated and remote. Traditional livelihoods are based primarily on small-scale agriculture and fishing.
The global energy transition is transforming the local area. Indonesia accounts for more than a third of the world’s nickel production, and North Morwali is home to some of the country’s largest deposits. Nickel is critical to the energy transition because it is widely used in low-carbon technologies, including electric vehicle batteries.
In recent years, North Morowali has seen an uptick in nickel mining and processing. Further growth is expected, given the Indonesian government’s ambition to establish the country as a battery manufacturing hub and a major player in electric vehicle supply chains.
- Population: 1,600 (Tiu) and 500 (Maralee)
- Main industries: Agriculture, fishing, nickel mining
Several hundred villagers from Tiu and Maralee work in the nickel sector. Some small businesses, including market vendors, have also benefited from the industry’s growth. But labour relations can be strained. In early 2023, deadly clashes erupted at a nickel smelter over allegations of unsafe working conditions and tensions between local and foreign workers.
Community members have expressed concern over the need for consultation to make them aware of plans to build new nickel mines. Some said that they want more information on the environmental and social obligations of the companies operating in the local area and expressed the need for more transparency and community engagement in the process.
Community members also expressed concern over how the mining industry is impacting traditional livelihoods. Some said that the mining activities were encroaching on the area’s forests, polluting local water supplies and reducing fish populations in Lake Tiu.
When told about the EITI, many community members expressed enthusiasm about its multi-stakeholder approach, viewing it as a potential forum for discussing challenges and resolving conflicts between communities and companies. Community members called for regular meetings to better understand the obligations of mining companies, including in relation to environmental impacts and social spending.
Local government officials also expressed interest in establishing an EITI multi-stakeholder forum in North Morowali. They view this as a way to address transparency gaps at the local government and community level and to mediate conflict between local communities and companies. In the coming months, Indonesia’s EITI multi-stakeholder group will discuss this plan and will follow up with local stakeholders in North Morowali, including outreach to companies.
Photographer: Iqbal Lubis
Project consultant: Publish What You Pay Indonesia