By Paul Coutrier
It was in early 1999 when I became acquainted to Beni N Wahju at IMA (Indonesian Mining Association). It was then that the IMA Executive Committee decided that entering the New Millennium, 2000, IMA should be more proactive to face the challenges facing the mining industry. For this purpose I was appointed Executive Director of IMA. The “fit and proper test” I faced was quite dynamic when 8 members of the IMA Executive Committee participated. When passing the test I my reporting line was to the IMA Chairman, Beni Wahju.
That is when I started to know Beni as a professional mining expert. My educational and professional background from the Oil Industry and the Environment and my experience as Head of Public Relations and Head of Training and Education of Pertamina was very compatible to that of Beni’s expertise in mining. This was a positive start and soon he leaves the initiatives of running the directorship to me. Together with DR. Sigit, Beni became my most prominent resource person in mining during my 5 years with IMA. I only left IMA because of my ill health at that time and because of my family pressure to reduce too much public pressure.
Through Beni I got full support from IMA to initiate and frequently held high level discussions with the parliament/DPR in RDP Commissions discussions, official discussions with the Government viz. ESDM (Mining & Energy), Menko Ekonomi (Coordinating Minister for Economy), Dep Keuangan (Ministry of Finance), Bappenas (National Planning Board),Dept Dalam Negeri (Ministry of Interior).Beni was always there to represent IMA and voiced his professional views.
In anticipating a new mining law to replace the one made in 1967 Beni and me even jointly initiated a Workshop on Mining Law with prominent speakers from World Bank and IFC Washington, Colorado School of Mines USA, Dept Kehutanan (Minister of Forestry), KLH/Ministry of Environment and other invitees from Professional Associations and the academia.
Together we used to be also active in developing relationship with Mining Associations at regional /ASEAN like AFMA (ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations) and at International levels like the ICMM.
Beni also introduced me to the Canadian Mining and Prospectors Conference annually held in Toronto. In another opportunity I visited Sudbury and went down the mine to 300 meter below the surface. This was the first and last time in my life to go underground that deep.
When I have to speak at those fora it is always encouraging to realize that expert advice like Beni was around. Beni was since long a famous expert at the AFMA/ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations.
Together with several international experts in mining,we both participated in the Preparatory Committee Meeting for the WSSD/World Sustainable Development in Bali, 2002, held by The United Nations. We succeeded in preventing a World Bank boycott on world mining as proposed by some NGO’s. The WSSD was later held in Johannesburg, South Africa
Beni is a gentleman who always maintain a considerate way of speaking and calm profile when arguing. Beni has a lot of friends especially in the mining sector. This is because of his capability of bridging professional differences among the mining people and the ability to communicate with social community leaders in the regions/daerah. His sudden demise is a big loss not only for the mining community but for every body who knows him well. I am sure he has got a special place “up there”.
Good Bye my friend, Requiescat in Peace