From diamond mine to national park: Indonesia’s South Kalimantan looks to boost economy


Cempaka mine is one of the largest diamond mines in Indonesia.

In August 1965, the mine was in the headlines when miners reportedly found a 166.75-carat diamond. Its size was almost as big as a pigeon’s egg. 

The diamond was brought to Jakarta in early September. Then Indonesian president Soekarno named it Trisakti, meaning thrice sacred in Sanskrit.

It is estimated that the diamond was worth trillions of rupiah at that time. 

Hence, the government promised to reward the 24 miners who found the diamond. At that time, it was reported that the miners would be sent on a haj pilgrimage and their future generations would be taken care of.

But on Sep 30, an attempted coup d’etat took place. In 1966, Soekarno was forced to hand emergency powers to Soeharto who later became the country’s second president.

Eventually, the authorities lost track of the whereabouts of the diamond, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. But they did keep their promise of sending the miners on a pilgrimage. 

Trisakti is not the only big stone discovered in Cempaka. 

In 1850, a 106.7-carat diamond was found there. Four years earlier, a 20-carat diamond was also discovered. 

Given these past events, the history of the mine will be an integral part of the new tourist park, said Yani.

“We will educate people that in 1965, miners found a diamond as big as a (pigeon’s) egg there,” said Yani.

Another interesting facet of mining in Cempaka is how the locals have their own taboos, said Noor Purbani, a senior official with Banjarbaru’s tourism agency. 

For instance, It is frowned upon to say the word diamond if they find it. Instead, the miners must call it “galuh”, meaning girl in the local language.

According to Purbani, the miners believe that the stone might disappear if they call it a diamond.

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