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Muara Tae – First Resources Ltd. RSPO Grievance Process

The Dayak Benuaq community of Muara Tae, in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan Province, are engaged in a fight against oil palm companies encroaching on their indigenous territory.

The Dayak Benuaq have used the forests sustainably for generations and, in Muara Tae, want to continue doing so. Over the last few years, however, the local Kabupaten, or Regency, government has issued permits to two agribusiness companies to develop plantations where their forests and farmland stand.

One of the companies, PT Borneo Surya Mining Jaya (PT Borneo), is a subsidiary of Singapore-listed First Resources Ltd. As a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), First Resources Ltd. is obliged to abide by the RSPO’s statutes and Principles & Criteria (P&C). Among these obligations is the need to recognise and respect customary land rights in areas in which they operate.

In October 2012 EIA lodged a grievance against First Resources Ltd. with the RSPO Secretariat. The process of resolving this grievance is ongoing. Core correspondence related to this process is listed chronologically below.



  • In October EIA also released a short film, partially using footage shot by the community of Muara Tae. The film Manufacturing Consent addresses the issue at the core of the grievance – First Resources Ltd.’s failure to obtain the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the community to operate on indigenous lands.


  • 10th December 2012: RSPO issues public letter to First Resources Ltd., announcing the decision of the RSPO Complaints Panel to uphold EIA’s complaint. The letter asks First Resources Ltd. to comply with a number of steps to ensure the rights of the community are recognised and respected. Until these measures have been taken, the company is asked to cease operating in the concession: RSPO Complaints Panel upholds EIA’s grievance


  • 17th December 2012: First Resources Ltd. responds to RSPO Secretariat. The company accepts the RSPO’s statement, but subject to its own conditions. Among these conditions, First Resources Ltd. only commits to cease operating on a fraction of the concession – 400ha – it defines as “the dispute area”: First Resources response to RSPO [Dec 2012]


  • 25th January 2013: First Resources Ltd. issues a confidential clarification to the RSPO, acknowledging that the cessation of operations applies to the whole concession. However, the letter commits to the cessation only until an on-the-ground review of the situation is completed by a Certification Body. This letter was initially shared with EIA by the RSPO on the basis that it would not be made public: First Resources response to RSPO [Jan 2013]


  • 5th February 2013: EIA responds to the RSPO requesting that the letter from First Resources Ltd. be made public in the interests of transparency and in accordance with RSPO statutes. EIA also requests clarification that the company is committed to cease activities until all of the measures demanded by the RSPO Complaints Panel are fulfilled, in accordance with its original decision, and not on the terms outlined by First Resources Ltd.: EIA response to RSPO and First Resources [Feb 2013]


  • 6th February 2013: In email correspondence with EIA, the RSPO Secretariat states it will seek the consent of First Resources Ltd. to make the letter dated 25th January, 2013, public. The letter is later posted on the RSPO website, but as of 8th February is no longer available.


  • 14th February 2013: RSPO appoints Certification Body Moody International Certification to carry out an investigation into the infringements identified by EIA. The process is scheduled to begin on 18th February.

Find more information and all the latest news from Muara Tae here