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Creating a Mining Code for Timor-Leste
Dezenvolve Kódigu Mineiru ba Timor-Leste

 20 April 2017. Updated  5 July 2021

Mining operations create problems for people all over the world. Although they may provide income for governments and transnational companies, they often result in environmental destruction; displacement; pollution of land, air and water; human rights violations; conflict; war and other devastating consequences for people living near or downstream from the mines.

Experience shows that effective regulation is essential (although not always sufficient) to reduce damage and protect people's rights. Given the intrinsic non-sustainability of mining activities (which use up non-renewable mineral resources in order to provide cash), it is always challenging to minimize their negative impacts.

Operasaun mineiru kria problema barak ba ema iha mundu tomak. Maski sei fó rendimentu ba governu no kompañia transnasional sira, atividade operasaun ne’e dala barak hamosu destruisaun ambientál, kria problema hanesan eviksaun; poluisaun rai, bee no atmosfera; violasaun direitus umanus; konflitu; funu no harahun buat barak ba ema hirak ne’ebé hela besik ka iha area atividade operasaun minerais.

Esperiénsia hatudu katak regulasaun ne’ebé efetivu sai esensiál (maski dala barak la sufisiente), atu redús devastasaun (destroi total) no proteje povu nia direitu. Haree ba realidade katak atividade minerais la’ós sustentável (ho gastu riku soin minerais naun renovavel hodi hetan osan), ne’e sempre iha dezafiu boot atu minimiza impaktu negativu.

Consultation begins in 2013, but goes underground

In 2013, Timor-Leste's Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources (MPRM) started talking with people around the country about a proposed law and code to license and regulate mining operations in the country. Consultations were held in Oecusse, Suai and Same, and La'o Hamutuk wrote a blog article encouraging people to give their input.

La'o Hamutuk scanned the English translation of the draft law and associated 178-article draft Mining Code, which you can download as a PDF or Word file. MPRM has also provided Portuguese and Tetum versions.

La'o Hamutuk hopes that the enacted version of this long and complex Code will prioritize its goal of "ecologically sustainable development" over the desire to hastily convert mineral wealth into cash.

In June 2014, MPRM told La'o Hamutuk that they had changed their plans, and there will not be any public consultation on this law in Dili. They expected to send it to the Council of Ministers soon.

Konsultasaun hahú iha tinan 2013, maibé ikus mai la'o subar

Ministériu Petróleu no Rekursu Minerais ko’alia ona ho ema barak iha nasaun ida ne’e kona ba ezbosu Lei Mineiru ba lisensiamentu no regulamentu operasionál minerais nian iha nasaun ne’e. Konsultasaun primeiru iha Oecusse hahú iha 26 Agosto, no konsultasaun tuir mai hala’o iha Suai iha 25 Setembru. La’o Hamutuk sirkula ezbosu lei ne’e no liu husi pájina ne’e ami enkoraja ita boot sira atu estuda no fó sujestaun.

La’o Hamutuk halo scan ezbosu lei ne’ebé inklui artigu 178 iha ezbosu Kódigu Mineiru, ne’ebé ita bele download iha Ingles. MPRM mós fasilita versaun Tetun no Portugés.

La’o Hamutuk espera katak adopsaun Kódigu ne’ebé naruk no kompleksu ne’e sei fó prioridade ba objetivu lei ne’e rasik mak “dezenvolvimentu ekolójiku ne’ebé sustentável” duke hanoin ne’ebé fasil liu atu konverte rikeza minerais ne’e ba osan.

Iha fulan Juñu 2014, MPRM hatete ba La'o Hamutuk katak sira muda ona sira nia planu, no sei laiha konsultasaun públiku iha Dili kona-ba ezbosu lei ida ne'e. Sira iha hanoin atu haruka ezbosu lei ne'e ba Konsellu Ministru iha tempo badak.

After two more years of closed-door discussions and revisions, Timor-Leste’s draft Mining Code was approved by the Council of Ministers on 9 August 2016 and celebrated in a government press release the following week, and by the Miranda Law firm which helped draft the law.

Hafoin tinan rua tan diskusaun segredu no revizaun , iha loron 9 Agostu 2016, Konsellu Ministru aprova ezbosu Kódigu Mineiru Timor-Leste nian. Semana ida tuir mai, Governu sai Komunikadu Imprensa ida.

Parliamentary action in 2017

The Government then sent the draft to National Parliament for discussion, and Committee D organized a public hearing on 19 January 2017 to hear perspectives from NGOs, the Chamber of Commerce and members of the Government and the institutions responsible for the petroleum and mining sector in Timor-Leste. During the hearing, La’o Hamutuk presented the following perspectives, and followed up with a written submission. We touched on many topics, including:

  • Parliament should listen more to inputs from many people, and allow more time for other experts to better improve this law, including also a comparative analysis with other countries which have encountered problems with environment, human rights and governance, before passing the law.

  • Timor-Leste, as a small island, even though it has mineral resources, is not an appropriate nation for mining activities because they can degrade our land, taking over areas for living, agriculture, and other economic activities.

  • The negative impacts from mining are larger than the benefits which our citizens will receive, because most of the benefits from mining will accrue to big mining companies, mostly from other countries, and the mining products will benefit customers in other countries. Therefore, the state should ensure benefits for Timor-Leste citizens, and give strong protection to our environment which will always be our land’s greatest resource, rather than make a law which will lose it.

  • Public consultation must be required before making a decision. Violations of local community rights often occur because legislation doesn’t consider their presence or their voice.

  • It would be better for Timor-Leste to implement strong and effective environmental licensing procedures before making a new mining law which will bring environmental disasters to our land.

  • The law should promote people’s right to get accurate information, easy to understand, which is sufficient for them to decide, as well as enough time for them to freely discuss, without intimidation or information. True “good practices” should put the people’s interest first, listening to and respecting the people’s right to veto.

  • The Model Mining Contract for Timor-Leste must be subject to public consultation. The EITI principles which Timor-Leste has adopted require that all contracts are totally public. Contract transparency should be written into the law, to let the companies know that they must obey this requirement and will be held accountable to the people, as owners of the resources.

Asaun iha Parlamentu Nasional iha 2017

Depois Governu haruka ezbosu ne’e (Port.) ba Parlamentu Nasional atu halo diskusaun. Komisaun D organiza audiénsia públiku iha loron 19 Janeiru 2017 hodi rona perspetiva sira hosi ONG, Camara Comercio, no mós membru Governu no instituisaun ne’ebé responsavel ba setór petróleu no minériu iha Timor-Leste. La’o Hamutuk aprezenta nia perspetiva sira hanesan tuir mai ne’e, no halo submisaun depois. Ami mensiona tópiku barak, inklui:

  • Parlamentu presiza rona tan input hosi ema barak, liu hosi fó tempu naruk tan ba peritu sira seluk no hadi’ak lei ida ne’e ho didi’ak, inklui mós halo analiza komparativu sira hosi rai sira ne’ebé enfrenta problema ambientál, direitus umanus no governasaun nian molok pasa.

  • Timor-Leste, nudár illa ki’ik ida, maske iha rekursu mineral, maibé nasaun ida ne’e la apropriadu atu halo atividade minériu tanba bele halo degradasaun rai, no halo kloot area ba abitasaun, agrikultura no mós atividade ekonómiku sira seluk.

  • Impaktu negativu hosi minériu ne’e boot liu kompara ho benefísiu sira ne’ebé sidadaun sira ne’e sei hetan tanba benefísiu barak hosi minériu ne’e sei halai liu ba kompañia minériu bo-boot sira ne’ebé maioria mai hosi rai seluk, no produtu minériu nian sei benefisia konsumidór sira hosi rai seluk. Nune’e, estadu tenke asegura sidadaun Timor-Leste nia benefísiu no proteje didi’ak meiu-ambiente no boli nafatin riku-soin rai nian, duke halo lei hodi halo sira lakon.

  • Konsulta públiku tenke sai nudár mandatóriu ida ne’ebé hala’o molok foti desizaun. Violasaun ba direitu komunidade lokál dala barak akontese tanba lejizlasaun la konsidera sira nia ezisténsia no mós sira nia lian.

  • Di’ak liu Timor-Leste fokus hodi implementa uluk lai nia prosedimentu lisensiamentu ambientál nian ho efetivu no forte molok halo lei foun ba minériu ne’ebé sei lori dezastre ambientál mai ita nia rai.

  • Lei tenke promove direitu ba povu hodi hetan informasaun sira ne’ebé ho loloos, fasil atu komprende, sufisiente ba sira atu bele deside no iha tempu ne’ebé nato’on ba sira diskute ho livre, sees husi kualkér intimidasaun ka intervensaun. “Boas praticas” loloos refere ba tau uluk liu povu sira nia interese, rona no respeita direitu veto povu nian.

  • Modelu kontratu iha minériu iha Timor-Leste tenke sai sujeitu ba konsultasaun públiku ida ne’e. Prinsipiu EITI ne’ebé Timor-Leste adopta, obriga atu kontratu hotu-hotu tenke publika tomak. Transparénsia kontratu nian ne’e tenke hakerek iha lei laran, hodi nune’e bele aviza ba kompañia sira hodi halo tuir sira nia obrigasaun sira no kontavel ba povu nudár na’in rekursu.

On 14 March 2017, the Council of Ministers approved a Decree-Law to establish the national mining company Murak-Rai Timor, a commercial entity financed by the state "to ensure the development of a sector of great potential." Following recommendations by President Taur Matan Ruak, the Decree-Law was revised and re-approved on 6 June.

On 13 June 2017, La'o Hamutuk hosted a public meeting on the Mining Law at the Institute of Business, with Niall Almond from LH and Parliamentary Economic Committee Chair Jacinta Abucau Pereira, who explained that Parliament will not approve the draft law before the July election.

In March 2018, the Council of Ministers approved a Decree-Law creating the Murak-Rai Timor S.A. state-owned mining company, although the Decree-Law has not yet been published in the Jornal da República.

Iha 14 Marsu 2017, Konsellu Ministrus aprova Dekretu-Lei ne’ebé kria empreza nasionál mineira, Murak-Rai Timor, sosiedade komersiál direitu privadu nian no kapitál integrál públiku "atu garante dezenvolvimentu setór ekonómiku ida ho nia poténsia boot." Hafoin rekomendasaun husi Prezidente Taur Matan Ruak, Dekretu-Lei ida ne'e hetan revizaun no aprovasaun iha loron 6 Juñu.

Iha loron 13 Juñu 2017, La'o Hamutuk organiza enkontru públiku kona-ba Lei Mineiru iha Institute of Business, ho Niall Almond husi LH no Prezidente Komisaun Ekonómiku Parlamentu Nasional Jacinta Abucau Pereira. Deputada ne'e esplika katak Parlamentu la aprova ezbosu lei ida ne'e molok eleisaun iha fulan Jullu.

Iha fulan Marsu 2018, Konsellu Ministrus aprova Dekretu-Lei ida kona-ba estatutu kompañia Murak-Rai Timor S.A. estadu nian, maske Dekretu-Lei ida ne'e seidauk publika iha Jornal da Repúblika.

Mining code resubmitted in 2019 and enacted in 2021

In July 2019, the Government approved a revised version of the Mining Code and Parliament began to discuss it. They invited La'o Hamutuk to make a written submission (Tetum), which we did.

After more than a year, Parliament approved the Mining Code in generality in July 2020. In late February 2021, Committees C and D held a three-day retreat in Tibar, Likisa, to discuss this law, continuing in early March, with this working version. However, on 9 March Committee D told Parliament that, although they have gotten through 64 of the draft's 162 articles, they are waiting for the Covid-19 situation to ease before continuing further.

On 12 May 2021, Committee D finished its work and Parliament approved a draft (Port.) in speciality. On 24 May, Parliament unanimously approved the law. It was promulgated by the President as Law no 12/2021 of 30 June (Port.) to take effect at the end of 2021.

Kódigu Mineiru diskusan hahu fali iha tinan 2019 no hetan aprovasaun iha 2021

Iha fulan Jullu 2019 Governu aprova versaun foun Kódigu Mineiru, no Parlamentu Nasional hahú diskusaun. PN konvite La'o Hamutuk atu hakerek submisaun ida, no ita haruka ona ba Komisaun D Parlamentu Nasional.

Documents and commentary (reverse chronological order)

Dokumentu no komentáriu sira


The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
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