Thursday, April 18, 2013

Indonesia's Mining Controversy & Hirata's The Rainbow Troops

From yesterday’s Reuters article, “Indonesia softening mining policy after industry backlash:”
Indonesia appears to be softening a controversial mining policy amid industry criticism and legal challenges to rules whose implementation could cost Southeast Asia's largest economy up to $10 billion a year in lost exports...
Last year Indonesia asked all miners to submit plans to build refineries or smelters ahead of a January 2014 ban on raw mineral exports. Until then a 20 percent tax on ore exports has been levied.
Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Susilo Siswo Utomo said the focus is to add value to exports, and for that smelters need not necessarily be built. "The word process does not mean you have to build a smelter. Sometimes you need to wash, to separate the soil and mud. This is also processing," Utomo told an Australian mining conference in Jakarta on Tuesday.

For a novel set in an Indonesian mining town, try The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata:
Ikal is a student at the poorest village school on the Indonesian island of Belitong, where graduating from sixth grade is considered a remarkable achievement. His school is under constant threat of closure. In fact, Ikal and his friends—a group nicknamed the Rainbow Troops—face threats from every angle: skeptical government officials, greedy corporations hardly distinguishable from the colonialism they’ve replaced, deepening poverty and crumbling infrastructure, and their own low self-confidence.
But the students also have hope, which comes in the form of two extraordinary teachers, and Ikal’s education in and out of the classroom is an uplifting one. We root for him and his friends as they defy the island’s powerful tin mine officials. We meet his first love, the unseen girl who sells chalk from behind a shop screen, whose pretty hands capture Ikal’s heart. We cheer for Lintang, the class’s barefoot math genius, as he bests the students of the mining corporation’s school in an academic challenge.

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