Political ecologies of the post-mining landscape: Activism, resistance, and legal struggles over Kalimantan's coal mines

Tessa Toumbourou, Muhamad Muhdar, Tim Werner, Anthony Bebbington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores contestation over the meanings, rules and practices of coal mine reclamation and mine closure in the context of East Kalimantan, Indonesia's major coal producing province. As mining intensified in the province, and coal was mined out, concessions were left with large mine voids un-refilled and abandoned without closure – many within close vicinity to human settlements. Following an extended campaign led by a diverse group of social movement actors, utilising various advocacy and litigation strategies, the East Kalimantan legislature adopted a provincial regulation in 2013, reinforcing higher-level regulations that mandate coal mining companies to conduct reclamation and post-mining clean up. The regulation was the first time that activists had directly influenced policy regulating mining at the sub-national level in Indonesia. Yet the policy outcome alone has not been sufficient to shape change: an estimated 1735 coal mine voids remain un-refilled in East Kalimantan, and the number of human fatalities from deaths in mine voids continues to grow. Remediation of mine sites is rarely performed to return land to its pre-mined conditions. By bringing together relevant scholarship in political ecology, the politics of development and legal geography, we analyse the relationships between pact-making, political settlements, contestation and policy reform related to the governance of post-mine landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101476
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date29 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Coal
  • Indonesia
  • Political ecology
  • Reclamation
  • Social movements
  • Subnational mining policy

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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