The Indonesian island of Bangka has been home to a tin rush for the past two decades, with thousands of miners stripping 80,000 tonnes of tin ore annually. This is driven by the demand for metal alloys in electronic devices like smartphones. However, this mining has had a detrimental effect on the natural environment and surrounding marine life due to deforestation and hazardous seabed drilling practices.
Around 65% of the forests have been lost as a result of open-cast mining, which is not sufficient to support the wildlife that once inhabited these areas. In addition, prospectors are illegally extracting tin ore from the sea beneath, using drills to break up the seabed and then disposing of mud back into the water. This heavy-handed practice is killing off coral reefs and other sea-based lifeforms that form part of Bangka’s biodiversity.
Conservationists and fishermen have made efforts to restrict mining but due to its dependence on tin as an industry, this has proven difficult. Around 60% of Bangkok’s economy relies on mining and therefore there is much at stake if it were to be drastically altered or ceased entirely. As a result people in both urban and rural areas face uncertain futures in terms of their livelihoods if something isn’t done soon.
Given that so much hangs in balance, it’s important for us all to understand what’s going on in Bangka – take a look at ‘The Tin Rush’, an eye-opening documentary exploring this ambitious industrialisation project through interviews with locals affected by it. By watching it we can gain insight into how our appetite for consumer electronics can have such far reaching impacts on local communities and ecosystems elsewhere – effects which must be taken seriously if we’re to avoid any further devastation towards them in future.