Explo Memorabilia

Managing and Improving the Quality Assurance of Coal and Mineral Exploration through ISO 9001 : 2008


Managing an exploration project is not only limited to of how to run the project well and how coal/mineral discoveries are made, but it also occupies of how to assure the quality of the produced exploration data. In exploration, data biases may come from simple things, like small contamination, small mixed-up samples, mistaken during data input, etc. Those biases may mislead the geological analysis of the ore and eventually mislead the cost analysis for further exploitation project. Thus, a quality assurance system is required in an exploration project management.

The easiest way of establishing quality assurance system is by creating procedures. All processes that may impact the quality of the exploration data (e.g, surveying, drilling, logging, sample handling, sample preparation, laboratory analysis, geoevaluation and geomodelling) must be well-identified, and there must be procedures that regulate the quality assurance for each of those processes. Afterward, these procedures act as guidance for geologists and other workers in the project to ensure the produced samples and data are high in quality, and fit to the actual condition. Nevertheless, in more advance quality assurance system, the most important thing is not the procedure itself, but is how the procedures can be well-implemented into those processes

One of systems offering the advance quality assurance system is ISO 9001:2008, an international standard of “Quality Management System” published by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization). Although the ISO is common standard and not specifically designed for coal or mineral exploration, this standard is very advance, applicable and can be simply implemented to the exploration project.

Quality Management System Building

In ISO 9001:2008, quality assurance system is like a building, in which procedures play their role as foundation and control to procedures implementation  play their role as pillars. In this building, roof truss consist of  measurement and evaluation to system performance, and the roof itself consist of management commitment to the quality assurance. These building’s elements are combined to create a management system which relies on the principles of continual improvement and customers satisfaction.

Roles of Procedures and its Implementation

Clarity and consistency is one major concern in the quality management system of ISO 9001:2008. The system straightens up that procedures must be well-socialized to every worker involved in the project. In daily work, procedures often subject to revision due to improvements, but revision are often not well-socialized to the geologists and workers. The ISO 9001:2008 regulates the procedure document traffic so that every workers get the most updated procedures and omit procedure dispute among workers.

Mostly, exploration projects create procedures through adoption of common mining & exploration best practice standards, such as JORC, NI43101, or other exploration standards. They also have carried out tight control to the procedures implementation. But, not many exploration projects quantitatively measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the procedures implementation, and the quality assurance in system in larger scope. This quantitative measurement and evaluation becomes the excellence of the ISO 9001:2008, and this quanitative measurement enable the organization to improve their quality assurance system appropriately.

Recording, Measurement and Evaluation

Recording is the basis of the measurement and evaluation. Data used for measurement and evaluation comes from records of every process involved in the exploration activities. The better record, the better evaluation result, and vice versa. Things that require good recording in exploration project for instance are survey data, logging and core recovery detail, sample picture, drilling equipment condition, laboratory equipment condition, workers & PIC involved in the activities, procedures socialization, handover of samples or documents, etc. Therefore, the ISO 9001:2008 strongly requires strong recording in every activities in the project. These records will make all activities are traceable, and help geologist to parse every problem occur, and tracing the problem’s cause as well as the person in charge for the problem.

All types of record mentioned in the previous paragraph are maybe common in every exploration project. But, there is one more type of record that maybe not common in exploration projects, and it becomes the peculiarity of recording system in ISO 9001:2008, which is called the ‘Nonconformities Record’. Nonconformities can be defined as product of a process which not meet the required quality standards. In coal and mineral exploration, nonconformities can be in form of inappropriate coordinates data, core recovery that lower that required, contaminated samples, mixed-up samples, discrepancy between samples with their following documents, missing samples, missing documents, homogenization precision that lower than expected during sample preparation, mistaken during geovaluation, etc. Number and types of nonconformities are considered as quality indicator of the processes. Less nonconformities occur means better quality, and vice versa, more nonconformities occur means lower quality. Therefore, the weak point in the system can be easily recognized by evaluating the frequency of nonconformities for every stage and process in coal/mineral exploration. And, in general, the performance of the exploration quality assurance can also easily be measured by evaluating the number and types of overall nonconformities.

Overall performance of the quality management system are also measured through audits, both internal and external audit. Number of findings in audit reflects the success rate of the exploration quality assurance. The less audit finding, the better quality assurance, and vice versa. And when audit result combined with other measurement method, this multiply measurement method give more accurate analysis in regards to the quality performance.

Corrective Action and Preventive Action

To continually improve the quality assurance system, corrective action and preventive action are also required for every nonconformity occurance in ISO 9001:2008 implemetation. These corrective actions are purposed for making a correct return to any mistaken things, and the preventive actions are efforts made to prevent the repetition of those nonconformities occurance in the future. The expectation is that the error repetition is declining time to time and the quality assurance system undergo massive improvements.

Last but not least, management commitment is needed to support every line in the system. Quality management system will not be succed if there are no management attention and commitment to quality assurance. Combined with other common mining & exploration best practice standards, such as JORC or NI43101, ISO 9001 : 2008 will be a potent tool in creating quality assurance system and continually improve them, as it will also give satisfaction to customers or stakeholders consuming the exploration data.

Written by : Budhi Kumarawarman


May 22, 2011 Posted by | Exploration | 5 Comments

Indonesian Standards for Mine Waste Water : Nickel – Gold – Copper

Based on USGS data in 2009, Indonesia is the world second largest nickel producer country after Russia. Nickels in Indonesia are mostly nickel laterite deposits spreaded in Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua. Two nickel smelters have been operated in South Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi for tens of years, owned by Inco and Aneka Tambang. Nickel productions are also done by many other mining companies operated in this country, most of them are exporting ore to other country such as China for further processing.

As well as in nickel, Indonesia also plays important role in world’s gold and copper production. In 2008, this country is the seventh largest gold producer in the world. Indonesia has two world class gold and copper producer : PT Freeport Indonesia’s operation in Papua and PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara in Sumbawa. This extensive nickel mining activity may lead to several environmental problem such as the waste water from mine activity that polluting the water bodies in areas around the mine site, and cause water quality degradation. Therefore, the Indonesian government pays a lot of attention to this mining activity and its environmental impacts. Indonesian government had issued two rules regulating the waste water standards for nickel, gold and copper mine. Indonesian’s Ministry of Environment published the “Minister of Environment Decree No. 202 Year 2004 Regarding Waste Water Standard for Gold and Copper Mine Activities and/or Bussinesses” (Kepmen LH No 202 Tahun 2004) and “Minister of Environment Regulation No 9 Year 2006 Reagrding Waste Water Standard for Nickel Mine Activities and/or Bussinesses”(Permen LH No 9 Tahun 2009). Both regulations specifically rule about waste water from those those metals commodities mining and processing.

Waste water intended in this regulation comprising : 1) waste water which are impacted directly from the nickel/gold/copper mine activity, resulting changes in water quality; and 2) waste water from nickel/gold/copper processing activity which are discarded to water bodies.

These water must be analised based on proper SNI (Indonesia National Standard) mentioned in final part of this article. For these analisis, nickel mine companies are required to establish their ‘compliance point’, one or more points which are used for reference in monitoring of companies compliance to the standards. Those compliance points must be in outlet of runoff treatment system before the waste water entering water bodies. Establisment of compliance points must also consider that the waste water in those point must be kept from influences from other activities or other water sources than the nickel mine and/or nickel processing activity.

Parameters that are compulsory to be monitor in those compliance points are : 1) daily insitu monitoring of the waste water’s pH and TSS (total suspended solid). 2) other parameter listed in below table at least once in one month.

Indonesian Standard for Nickel Mine Waste Water

In Minister of Environment Regulation No.9 Year 2006, the maximum chemistry concentration allowed for waste water come from nickel mining & nickel processing activities are as shown on table below

All of these parameters have to be analised from sample taken from waste water in compliance points. Companies are not allowed to dilute the waste water for standards compliance purpose.

Indonesian Standards for Gold and Copper Mine Waste Water

Standard for gold and copper mine is explained in detail in Minister of Environment Decree No 202 Year 2004. This standard is also divided based on types of activities, i,e, mining & processing as shown on table below

Same with standards for nickel mine, all of these parameters have to be analised as dissolved ion, and companies are not allowed to dilute the waste water for standards compliance purpose.

Written by : Budhi Kumarawarman

Reference :

Minister of Environment Decree No. 202 Year 2004 Regarding Waste Water Standard for Gold and Copper Mine Activities and/or Bussinesses

Minister of Environment Regulation No 9 Year 2006 Reagrding Waste Water Standard for Nickel Mine Activities and/or Bussinesses

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Environmental | 3 Comments

Nickel Sulfide : The Primary Source of World Nickel Demand

Today, 56 % of global nickel production comes from nickel sulfide and only 42% comes from nickel laterite. Nickel sulfides are formed from the deposition of nickel minerals by hydrothermal fluids. This deposit is a family member of magmatic sulfide deposit wich consist of 2 types of deposit, i.e, 1) the nickel sulfides or so called Ni-Cu Sulfide because the nickel often associate with copper, and 2) the PGE (Platinum Group Element) dominant – magmatic sulfide which include valuable  mineral such as Platinum & Palladium.

 Magmatic Sulfide Deposit Occurance

 United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded that formation of magmatic sulfide started with the partial melting of hot mantle rising as a plume from deep in the Earth to the earth crust. Then, the melting produces basaltic magma that is relatively rich in metals but may be poor in sulfur, which then rises upward and intrudes into the crust, forming magma chambers. In these chambers, basaltic magma may interact with the crust and become contaminated. Sulfur from surrounding rocks may be incorporated into the magma. This contamination reduces the ability of the magma to keep sulfur in solution and the magma may become sulfur saturated. When sulfur saturation occurs, droplets of sulfide liquid form; because the droplets are more dense than basaltic magma, they tend to settle into the lower part of the magma chamber. As the sulfide droplets segregate, they scavenge metals such as nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), and PGE such as platinum (Pt), and palladium (Pd) from the magma. If these sulfide droplets become sufficiently concentrated, a magmatic sulfide deposit is formed. The largest concentrations of sulfides appear to form in channels or conduits through which new magma flows into the magma chamber. Basaltic lavas erupted from chambers undergoing sulfide segregation will be depleted in those elements enriched in the sulfide deposits. Recognition of such depleted basalts can therefore provide important evidence that sulfide separation has occurred at depth.

 Ni-Cu Sulfide Deposit

 According Eckstrand and Hulbert from Geological Survey of Canada, Ni-Cu sulfide occur as sulfide-rich ores that are associated with differentiated mafic and/or ultrmafic sill and stocks, and ultramafic (komatiitic) volcanic flows and sills. In this type of deposit, Ni is the main economic commodity, generally at grades of about 1 to 3 percent. Copper may be either a coproductor by-product, and Co,PGE and Au are the usual by-product. However, in some cases, such as Norilsk in Russia, PGE may constitute highly significant coproduct.

The mafic and ultramafic magmatic bodies that host the Ni-Cu sulphide ores are diverse in form and composition, and can be subdivided into the following four subtypes:

  1. A meteorite-impact mafic melt sheet that contains basal sulphide ores (Sudbury, Ontario is the only known example).
  2. Rift and continental flood basalt-associated mafic sills and dyke-like bodies (Noril’sk-Talnakh, Russia; Jinchuan, China; Duluth Complex, Minnesota; Muskox, Nunavut; and Crystal Lake intrusion, Ontario).
  3. Komatiitic (magnesium-rich) volcanic fl ows and related sill-like intrusions (Thompson, Manitoba; Raglan and Marbridge, Quebec; Langmuir, Ontario; Kambalda and Agnew, Australia; Pechenga, Russia; Shangani, Trojan, and Hunter’s Road, Zimbabwe).
  4. Other mafic/ultramafic intrusions (Voisey’s Bay, Labrador; Lynn Lake, Manitoba; Giant Mascot, British Columbia; Kotalahti, Finland; Råna, Norway; and Selebi-Phikwe, Botswana).

Ore Characterisitic

 Eckstrand and Hulbert also explain that this deposit may occur as individual sulfide bodies associaated with magmatic mafic and/or ultramafic bodies. Other occur as groups of sulfide bodies associated wih one or morerelated magmatic bodies in areas or belts up to tens, even hundreds of kilometers long. Ni grades are tipically between 0.7 and 3 percent,and Cu grades ae between 0.2 and 2 percent. Ore tonnage of individual deposit range from few hundred thousands to a few tens millions. Two giant Ni-Cu deposit stand out above all the rest in the world are Sudbury in Ontario, Canada and Norilsk in Talnakh, Russia with ore tonnage of 1645 and 1903 Mt respectively. Other major Ni-Cu deposit are Thompson, Voisey’s bay and Raglan in kanada, Jinchuan in China, Kambalda in Australia and Pechenga in Russia.

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Exploration, Geology | 1 Comment

World Nickel Deposit

Nickel (Ni) is the fifth most abundant element in the earth, even so, it is rare in crustal rocks. This element has became important commodity and been used in many industrial and consumer product such as stainless steel, magnet, rechargeable batteries electric guitar string and special alloy. About 65% of the nickel consumed in the Western World is used to make austenitic stainless steel.  Another 12% goes into superalloys (e.g., Inconel 600) or nonferrous alloys (e.g., cupronickel).  Both families of alloys are widely used because of their corrosion resistance.   The aerospace industry is a leading consumer of nickel-base superalloys.  Turbine blades, discs and other critical parts of jet engines are fabricated from superalloys.  Nickel-base superalloys are also used in land-based combustion turbines, such those found at electric power generation stations.  The remaining 23% of consumption is divided between alloy steels, rechargeable batteries, catalysts and other chemicals, coinage, foundry products, and plating.

Nickel-bearing deposits come from  2 types of deposits, the nickel laterite and nickel sulfide. Nickel laterite are formed from chemical weathering of ultramafic rocks. This deposits are found in Western Australia, New Caledonia, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and Dominican Repulic. While, deposits of nickel sulfides are formed from the precipitation of nickel minerals by hydrothermal fluids. These sulfide deposits are also called as magmatic sulfide deposits and found in Australia, Canada, Russia and South Africa.

 World’s total reserves of nickel is about 71 million tones (USGS data, 2009). Among these, production has made in some countries. Russia is the world’s primarily leading country in nickel production. Most of them are produced in Norilsk, the largest nickel deposit in the world. One-fifth of the world’s nickel are produced from smelter in Norilsk. All of those Russian nickels come from nickels sulfide which is the primary source of mined nickel in the world. 

After Russia, Indonesia is the second largest nickel producer countries. But, Indonesian nickels are sourced from nickel laterite. Indonesian tropical climate is considered to be the main factor of the massive laterite deposit in Indonesia. Two nickel smelters currently operate in eastern Indonesia, owned by Aneka Tambang and Inco (subsidiary of Vale).

 Today, nickel sulfide deposits are the primary source of the mined nickel in the world. About 58% of world’s nickel production come from nickel sulfide and only 42% of them come from nickel laterite.


However, trend of future nickel production are seem to change because nickel sulfide deposit are continue depleting due to long history of exploitation. With the current lack of high quality nickel sulfides exploration target, nickel laterites are most-likely to be developed as future primary nickel source. 

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Exploration | 4 Comments

New Indonesian Environmental Law : New Challenge for Mining Industry

On October 2009, President Yudhoyono ratified Law of The Republic Indonesia Number 32 Year 2009 Regarding Environmental Protection and Management. Different from the previous environment law (Law No. 23 Year 1997), the new law regulate more detail about Environmental Impact Assesment (AMDAL) and put renewable and unrenewable resources exploitation into kind of activity mandatory to be covered by AMDAL document. This law also stated the requirement of possessing environmental permit before an industry starting its activity.

The new requlation off course will impact mining industry, especially in the initial stage of the mine projects, as well as the development projects. Companies will have to spend more time and money to fulfilled these arrangement before started their projects.

Environmental Impact Assesment (AMDAL)

In the new law, AMDAL is required for every bussiness or acivity which have substantial impact to the environment. Generic criteria for substantial affecting bussines or actitiy is mentioned in the article 22 of the law. Among those criterias, some of them are pointed that mining activity is obliged to have AMDAL, i.e, :
1. change in form of land and landscape
2. exploitation of natural resources, renewable and unrenewable
3. process and activity to cause environmental pollution and/or damage as well a squandering and degradation of natural resources in the utilization
4. process and activity whose output would influence the preservation of the natural resource conservation area and/or protection of cultural resource reserve (for mining companies awarded concession that occupy protected forest area)

This AMDAL must also be made by person who is certified as AMDAL formulator or known as AMDAL-B certicate, and will be judged by AMDAL Appraisal Commision established by the Minister, Governors or regents/mayors in accordance with their respective scope of authority.

Not as tight and detaill as Law No 32 Year 2009 which strictly noted that exploitation of natural resource mandatory to have AMDAL, the previous Law no. 23 Year 1997 only mentioned “every business and/or activity may bringing substantial impact to the environment obliged to have AMDAL”. Previously, specific criterias of acitivity required to have AMDAL are stated in Minister of Environment Regulation No. 11 Year 2006 (Permen LH No 11 tahun 2006). In this ministerial regulation, not all of mining activities are mandatory to have AMDAL. Mining activities obliged to have AMDAL in that Ministerial Regulation for instance are:
1. Open area more than 50 ha (cumulative per annum)
2. For coal mining :
– mine capacity exceeding 1,000,000 tons per annum
– overburden removed exceeding 4,000,000 tons per annum
3. For Primary Ore :
– mine capacity exceeding 400,000 tons per annum
– overburden removed exceeding 1,000,000 tons per annum
4. For Secondary Ore/Alluvial deposit :
– mine capacity exceeding 300,000 tons per annum
– overburden removed exceeding 1,000,000 tons per annum
5. etc…

However, the criteria listed in the new environmental law is still generic criteria. Indonesian government has not published the technical rule straightening up the specific criteria yet. Untill the new specific criteria has published, criteria in Ministerof Environment Regulation No. 11 Year 2006 is considered to be valid.

Other activity excluded from the AMDAL compulsory criteria shall be obliged to have “Environmental Management Program and Environmental Monitoring Program” or also called as “UKL-UPL”

UKL-UPL (Environmental Management and Environmental Monitoring Program)

UKL-UPL is also kind of environmental document but much less detil than AMDAL. This document not required to be appraised by ad hoc commission as AMDAL does, but enough to be appraised by structural or technical unit within institution responsible for environmental management in regencial or provincial level.

For exploration stage, usually UKL-UPL is sufficient to cover the required environmental document, as long as the exploration activity not open the vegetation more than 50 hectares and/or in protected forest. But, this document may not be adequate for exploitation stage.

Environmental Pemit

Previously, AMDAL or UKL-UPL is considered to be sufficient environmental permit after being approved by authorities. On the contrary, the new environmental law affirm that those environmental documents are not suffice to act as environmental permit. Article 36 in Law No 32 Year 2009 explain that every bussines and/or activity required to have AMDAL or UKL-UPL shall obliged to have environmental permit issued by the Minister, Governor or Regent/mayor in accordance with their respective scope of authority. Appearance of this new permitting procedure of course will effect the permitting paradigm in mining industry, as they will spend more time and budget for their projects permitting process. However, government has not published yet the regulation that arrange the detail technical procedure of the permitting process. Up to now, AMDAL or UKL-UPL is still considered to be valid environmental permit.

Sanction and Penal Provision

Sanctions for violation to this new environmental law is distinguished into two types, i.e, administrative sanction and penal provision. Admistrative sanction can be written warning, government compulsion, freezing of environmental license and revocation for environmental license. While, penal provison is given for :
1. anybody creating environmetal damage,
2. anybody running business or activity without environmental permit
3. anybody formulating AMDAL without compentency certificate of AMDAL formulator
4. government officials granting environmental permit that is issue environmental permit without AMDAL or UKL-UPL
5. every authorized official intentionally not supervising compliance of parties responsible for business and/or activity with legislation and environmental permit
6. etc

Penal provision for these violations is improsenment for 1 untill 3 years or fine varying from five hudred million to three billions rupiahs.

Source :

1. Law of Republic Indonesia No 23 Year 1997 Regarding Environmental Management
2. Law of Republic Indonesia No 32 Year 2009 Regarding Environmental Protection and Management
3. Minister of Environment Regulation No 11 Year 2006 Regarding Type of Bussiness and/or Activity Plan Required to Have Environmental Impact Assesment (AMDAL)
4. Minister of Environment Decree No 86 Year 2002 Regarding Guidelines of Environmental Management Program and Environmental Monitoring Program (UKL-UPL)

Written by :
Budhi Kumarawarman

Geologist with experience in Mineral Exploration,
Mine Environmental & Permitting

September 6, 2010 Posted by | Environmental, Mine Permit & License | 1 Comment

Forestry Issues in Indonesia’s Mineral Exploration

As mining activities usually open extensive area of forest, they are often accused as one of the deforestation agent in Indonesia. Therefore, the Ministry of Forestry of Republic Indonesia puts a lot of attention to this activity, including to mineral exploration which usually also comprises land clearing for its drill pad or exploration road.

Based on the Law of Republic Indonesia No 41 the Year of 1999 regarding Forestry (UU No 41 Tahun 1999), the use of forest region for mining can only be done through the permit from The Minister of Forestry, considering the circumscription of opening width and period, as well as the environment conservation perpective. This arrangement was declared in article number 38 of the law. Permit from the Minister intended in this law is known as “Ijin Pinjam Pakai Kawasan Hutan”. This permit was explained in detail in the Minister of Forestry Regulation number 43 the year of 2008 (Permen Hut No 43 Tahun 2008).

Other forestry issue faced by mining industry is that both Law No 41 the Year of 1999’s and Ministerof Forestry Regulation number 43 the year of 2008’s stated the prohibition of open pit mining in protected forest. Because many mining companies have concession in protected forest, this prohibition face objection from mining industry.

Forestry Permit (Ijin Pinjam Pakai Kawasan Hutan)

According to Minister of Forestry Regulation number 43 the year of 2008, only Minister of Forestry have the authorization of granting the permit of “Ijin Pinjam Pakai kawasan Hutan” . This permit be valid for 20 years and can be obtained by sending application of permission to the minister with recommendation from Provincial Governor.

Many mining companies have objection to this permit because they think that obligations following to the given permit are too heavy. Have a basis of the followed obligation, “Ijin Pinjam Pakai Kawasan Hutan” is distinguished into two types. The first type is to pay PNBP (State Non-Tax Revenue) and the second type is in the form of Land Compensation. PNBP to be paid if total forest in the province is more than 30% of province width and Land Compensation to be fulfilled if total forest in the province is less than 30% width. This land compensation must be done within 2 years after the principal permit issued and the company must reforest the compensated land. Beside that, company must also pay PSDH (Provision of Forest Resources) and DR (Reforestation Fund).

However, government gives dispensation for exploration activity because the activity does not have major influence to the forest compared to the open pit mining. For exploration stage, company not necessarily to have the “Ijin Pinjam Pakai Kawasan Hutan”, company only necessary to apply for “Permit of the Use of Forest Area for Survey Activity, Reconnaisance and Exploration”. This permit is valid for 2 years, the application process is faster and has lighter requirements.

Prohibition of Open Pit Mining in Protected Forest

As previously mentioned, open pit mining in protected forest is strictly prohibited and against the law. Off course this prohibition became critical issue for mining industry, especially for mining companies which had been awarded concession that occupy protected forest before the law was issued in 1999. These companies appeal for this legal uncertainty because they think that it will harm their bussiness.

As a respond for this objection, finally, government of Indonesia issued the “President Decree No. 41 the Year of 2004 (Keppres No 41 tahun 2004) regarding Licensing and Agreement for Mining in Forest Region”. This decree gives the permission to 13 mining companies that awarded concession before the the implementation of Law Number 41 the year of 1999 to continue their activity in forest region including the protected forest until their license or contract expired. These companies are Freeport Indonesia, Karimun Granit, PT Inco, Indominco Mandiri, Aneka Tambang, Nusa Halmahera Minerals, Pelsart tambang Kencana, Interex Sacra Raya, Weda Bay Nickel, Gag Nickel and Sarikmas Mining. However, these companies still have to apply for the permit of “Ijin Pinjam Pakai Kawasan Hutan” to continue their activity in the protected forest. This exception is only applied for those 13 companies, other mining companies not listed in this Presidential Decree are still not allowed to mine with open pit method in protected forest.

Written by :
Budhi Kumarawarman
(Geologist with experience in Mineral Exploration, Mine Environmental & Permitting)

September 6, 2010 Posted by | Mine Permit & License | 4 Comments