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Commodities: Adaro fuels Asia’s hunger for power

As China’s appetite for commodities appears to be fading, demand for Indonesian coal could also fall, putting the export economy under stress. Mining company Adaro explains why the future is still bright.

The chartered flight from Banjarmasin to Warukin in South Kalimantan is a short, bumpy ride. Before the small plane takes off, earplugs are handed out to the passengers to block the noise screaming from the engine. But once airborne, it turns out nobody is bothered about the din. They are concentrating instead on the spectacular views.

South Kalimantan’s arable, green land has an unusual order to it. Some of it has been carefully sectioned into identical squares and used to grow oil palms. Small settlements can be seen close to cultivated land and there are reservoirs of all shapes and sizes dotted around. The most remarkable sight, however, is the vast opencast coal mine.

Tutupan mine is the second-largest opencast mine in Indonesia. It stretches 16 kilometres in length, is two and a half kilometres wide and a quarter of a kilometre deep. The black and grey lines across the edges of the mine are in stark contrast to the lush environment surrounding it. From the air, it looks as if little work is being carried out below. Only a few trucks can be seen navigating their way through the makeshift roads that meander to and from the mine.

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