Remembering The Coal Mine in Sawahlunto

Remembering The Coal Mine in Sawahlunto

The name of Sawahlunto become familiar since international sports events Tour de Singkarak held by The Government of Sawahlunto, Padang, West Sumatra. This event is fully by PT Bukit Asam (Persero) Tbk. Ombilin Mining Unit (PTBA UPO).

Sawahlunto is a small town in the east of the Padang City. This name is clingly to coal mining. When speaking of coal, our memories turned to PTBA, one of the state-owned company engaged in coal mining.

Long before managed by PTBA, through the subsidiary PTBA UPO, coal in the bowels of the earth Sawahlunto is controlled by the Dutch colonial government.

In a report of a national news website,, narrated, coal mining in this small town began in 1867. At that time, an adventure Dutchman Willem Hendrik de Greve managed to find deposits of coal in the bowels of the earth, in the vicinity of the River Ombilin, reaching 205 million tons. This discovery was startling at the time.

At that time, coal is needed by the industry and transport. Upon approval of the Dutch government, he began to conduct coal mining. Since that, the town getting crowded.

After the local communities "submit" area to the Netherlands, then in 1876, de Greve began the excavation of coal in this area.

In 1891, a black gold mine began operations. The investment value incurred Kingdom of the Netherlands is very large, about 20 million guilders or equivalent to Rp150 billion.

The railway line was built along the 100 kilometers connecting Sawahlunto to Teluk Bayur, Padang. The latest locomotive was brought from Germany. It is namely Mak Itam. 

The coal makes Sawahlunto become a magnet for immigrants in early 20th century. The need for food has exploded. Forced the Dutch to build a food processing facility, which become Museum Gudang Ransum now. This is where compliance with food all over the miners and citizens, including for the Dutch.

After Indonesian independence, the mines managed by the state through the company he founded, namely PT Tambang Batu Bara Ombilin (TBO). TBO then liquidated become subsidiary of PTBA in Tanjung Enim, South Sumatra.

Until now, the wealth of coal in the bowels of the earth Sawahlunto is recorded clearly in a pit coal mine called Lubang Mbah Suro.
This hole record the misery of the forced workers. The Dutch East Indies government prisoners were brought in from Java and other areas, called the chain.
In 1932, this hole was closed by the Dutch.

This hole record smarting laranya of the forced labor. The Dutch East Indies government prisoners were brought in from Java and other areas, called the chain.

In 1932, this hole was closed by the Dutch.

In 2007, the hole is located in Tangsi Baru Kelurahan Tanah Lapang, Kecamatan Lembah Segar was also reopened by the local government after going through several restoration for tourism purposes. Drains and air is added so that visitors can enter comfortably. 

Although PTBA UPO no longer in operation, as the reference price of coal is not comparable to the cost of production types of mines.  However, PTBA UPO has built a museum named Ombilin Coal Mine Museum that was inaugurated on June 14, 2016.

This museum which was inaugurated by the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Dr. Sapta Nirwanda is intended as a center of documentation and archives PTBA UPO, and is expected to be a current complement of various objects existing tourist attractions in Sawahlunto, even become a study center and historical information of coal mining in Indonesia as well as to attract tourists from domestic and foreign tourists.