MAC: Mines and Communities

World Day on Inco: Reports from Across the World

Published by MAC on 2003-10-08

World Day on Inco: Reports from Across the World

8th October 2003

“For the sake of those whose lives are affected by these companies, their stories deserve to be told. For the sake of those who work every day for Inco, who live under the path of its pollution, who have died for it or who have been killed so that it and corporations like it could operate in Guatemala and Indonesia, for them this story is told. But not just for them.

For if each abuse by each company is but the result of the inexorable logic of the larger system, the old trade union slogan “an injury to one is an injury to all”, must be given new meaning. And an attack on one corporation, be it Inco or any other, must become an attack on all, on the entire corporate capitalist system.” - Jamie Swift in “The Big Nickel, Inco at Home and Abroad” (1977).

They came from the villages of Indonesia and into the streets of Jakarta. They protested
in Canada and New York. They rallied in New Caledonia and despatched letters to
company offices across the world. “They” were hundreds of people representing thousands of others affected by the operations of INCO, the “Big Nickel”. What follows are some of the reports of the first World Day of Action against one of the most devastating and
polluting of mining companies, held on October 7th.

Inco subject of worldwide protest

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press-Toronto

8 October 2003

Environmentalists handed out southern Ontario ‘‘dirt bags’’ to New York investment analysts Tuesday as part of a worldwide protest to condemn the environmental record of Canadian nickel giant Inco Ltd.

The plastic baggies contained roughly 100 grams of dirt meant to symbolize the contaminated soil of homes in Port Colborne, Ont., where pollution from an Inco refinery is blamed for causing the town’s children to fall ill with migraines, asthma and rashes.

A multimillion-dollar lawsuit alleges the high levels of nickel oxide in the area also puts residents at risk of developing cancer.
Inco has denied it has endangered anyone. Spokesman Steve Mitchell said Inco was designated as a ‘‘socially responsible company’’ this year by two European investment firms.

‘‘They looked at environmental performance, community relations, health and safety, and they rated our performance as well above average for our industry,’’ Mitchell said.

But similar stories alleging the company’s environmental disregard can be found around the world, said Jennifer Gould of Environmental Defence Canada, one of several groups taking part in a worldwide effort to shame the mining company into improving its record.

‘‘Not all Canadians are aware of Inco’s human rights track record and its environmental track record in countries like Indonesia, New Caledonia and its past record in Guatemala,’’ Gould said in explaining the impetus for protests that will span several days around the world.

‘‘It was about time that the communities got together and raised their concerns on one day so that not only Inco, but also Inco’s shareholders and the governments where Inco operates … can hear loud and clear the communities’ concerns.’’

Gould said activists delivered a letter of demands to Inco head offices in England, Australia and Japan as well as Thompson, Man.

She said the most striking demonstrations took place in Indonesia, where protests in two different cities drew groups of 300 people each. Hundreds of indigenous leaders in Guatemala signed a declaration highlighting their concerns Monday and were to take it to their government Tuesday, she said.

Protests were on a much smaller scale in Canada.

Local protest

University environmentalists put on a street demonstration in St. John’s, Newfoundland, while the Raging Grannies musical protest group planned to gather outside an Inco plant in Sudbury, Ont. and Port Colborne residents were to attend a community meeting today, Gould said.

Mitchell dismissed the environmental group’s claims and said he wasn’t aware of any significant action taking place at any of the company’s plants.
‘‘The organizers said in their press release there would be a demonstration in New Caledonia. There was nothing,’’ said Mitchell, adding relations with Inco communities around the world were good.

‘‘At our operation in Indonesia, where they said there would be a demonstration, there was nothing. At our refinery in Wales there was nothing.’’
Gould said there were multiple protests in Indonesia that may not have taken place directly at Inco plants, but admitted she hadn’t heard if a planned protest in New Caledonia went ahead. She said there were no plans for a demonstration in Wales.

In New York, a meeting of Wall Street financial analysts being addressed by Inco chairman Scott Hand was greeted by a Port Colborne lawyer and local environmentalists who handed them pamphlets and bags of dirt.

‘‘The bag indicates that if this was filled with Port Colborne dirt there likely would be enough nickel in the bag to be economically mined,’’ said Eric Gillespie, lawyer for Port Colborne residents seeking compensation for their polluted property and sickened children.

A nickel company can comfortably run a mine if the soil contains 8,000 parts per million, Gillespie said from New York.

Some of his clients have recorded nickel levels of 12,000 14,000 and even 17,000 parts per million, he said.

Indonesia - Jakarta

Information from: Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence Canada

October 8, 2003 - Concerned citizens demonstrated in front of the Canadian Embassy, located in the World Trade Centre in central Jakarta, to express the anger of Indonesians that Canadian mining giant Inco has exploited their environment and people for their profits.

Several protesters with signs and banners protesting the devastation of Inco, sang, chanted and distributed information to passersby. Speeches denouncing the track record of Inco from the Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) and Friends of the Earth Indonesia (Walhi) called for the expulsion of Inco from Indonesia. A theatrical presentation, with one activist representing Inco, and several others representing communities in Indonesia, New Caledonia, Guatemala, and Canada acted out the struggles over land, human rights and justice.

“Inco must beg for forgiveness from the communities, the people who have been victimized by their operations, pay compensation for the land they have stolen from the people and clean up the disaster they have left behind in the environment,” says Chalid Muhammad, the director of the Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM).

Today’s protest coincides with the World Unites Against Inco movement, which saw people take to the streets in two other cities in Sulawesi, which is home to the Inco mine site. Naomi Manata of the Karunsie Dongi indigenous community in Soroako, who is fighting for compensation and cleanup for the traditional lands that Inco seized for its operations. “We were forced off our land by PT INCO, and they now must give it back and rehabilitate the environment that they destroyed”.

Yesterday, 250 marched through the streets of Palu brandishing messages such as “Inco Go to Hell”, to protest Inco, transnational companies, the complacency of the Megawati government, and the militarization of their communities because of mining.
In Morowali, 500 people held a noisy demonstration, and called on the local government to take action to address the needs of the people.

Information from: Jennifer Foulds
Communications Director
Environmental Defence Canada
Tel: (416) 323-9521 ext. 232
Fax: (416) 323-9301


Inco Must Give Back Land to Community and Rehabilitate the Environment

Jakarta, 8 October 2003

Coalition for Justice and the Future of the Earth

INCO Ltd, is a nickel mining company from Canada that at this moment is lobbying the government of Indonesia to be permitted to conduct mining in protected areas. The concession area that PT INCO, largely controlled by INCO Ltd, is 218,000 hectares, 47% of which is located in protected forest areas, encompassing three provinces in Indonesia: South, South East and Central Sulawesi. As well as these areas, INCO also has plans to pursue operations close to Lake Matano in South Sulawesi. Mining operations close to Lake Matano not only threaten vulnerable ecosystems in this area, but also create many problems for the local communities who rely on this lake for their livelihood.

Since the signing of the Contract of Work in 1968, the mining practises of INCO have been as bad as other mining companies. Land conflicts with indigenous communities, such as Karonsi’e Dongi, that have been ongoing for many years, still have not been addressed. The same fate has fallen o the displaced people of Bahomotefe and Oneputejaya in Morowali, South Sulawesi, whose traditional land was claimed by PT INCO. These communities also relied on the lakes and land for their livelihood, and homes, but have still received no compensation.

These conflicts are some of the examples of the issues communities have with PT INCO, and what makes this company one of the lowest cost producers of nickel. INCO is able to produce nickel at such a low cost by not caring about the impacts they have inflicted on the environment. The company has not done any reclamation work on the areas where they have had operations. They have also caused excessive damage to the mountains through the excavation process. It is the community that suffers.

“INCO must beg for forgiveness from the communities, the people who have been victimized by their operations, pay compensation for the land they have stolen from the people and clean up the disaster they have left behind in the environment,” says Chalid Muhammad, the director of the Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM).

According to Chalid, aside from the environmental destruction, other issues INCO has brought to communities is the discrimination of the local residents, human rights abuses, and the devastation of the social culture of the community, and a disruption to the local economy and sources of livelihoods. “Who will be accountable for economic development after the company closes operations,” questions Chalid.

INCO has caused the pollution of the Larona River through a hydroelectric project that has been devastating to the environment. The Larona River was dammed to supply enery for PT INCO’s processing plant in Soroako. The Canadian Export Credit Agency has provided $60 million in funding for this project. PT INCO received the permit to construct the Larona Dam from the Soeharto regime in a scheme to develop mining. The military provided support for this project by acting as security, and using force to intimidate the local community.

In 1994, PT Inco renogotiated its agreements with the government, the operation in Soroako was to be increased by 50% before 1999, and two more processing plants to be constructed by the river. This process was not agreed to by the community, and did not have rigorous environmental testing or socialization not consulted between the government and the indigenous community.

INCO actually does not contribute to the economic development of the country, because they weilded their power to reach agreements with a largely corrupt Indonesian government to receive massive tax breaks. The total amount of income the government of Indonesia earns through royalties is insignificant, in relation to the amount of profits it extracts; as low as 4%. This amount could never cover the enormous costs of rehabilitating the environment and providing adequate compensation for the land seized for its operations.

Portrait of Inco’s Injustice in Other Areas

Examples of Inco being unjust can be found not only in Indonesia. In Canada, INCO has been named by Environmental Defence Canada as the worst mining polluter in the country. The amounts of pollution generated by INCO were found to be 13 times more than its rival Falconbridge even though Inco produces only 3 times the nickel. In Port Colborne, Ontario, Inco has recently been ordered to clean up 25 properties that were contaminated with lead, nickel and other metals as a result of their refinery. A recent study has found unreasonably high rates of cancer in the area closest to Inco’s operation. The community has suffered many health and safety problems as a result of the Inco refinery, and many former employees have either contracted cancer, or suffered other heath issues, and many have died from these condition.

In Guatemala, the INCO had been in operations as Exmibal since 1968. In 1978, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were killed by the military, when they attempted to protest the operations of Inco. Groups such as Amnesty International believe INCO was directly involved. Although the mine has been inactive since 1983, there are fears that INCO will resume operations.

For the above reasons, the Coalition for Justice and Future of the Earth issues this position statement:
1. Reject Inco plans to mine in protected areas.
2. To push the Canadian Embassy to force INCO to be accountable for the environmental and social impacts their operations have caused
3. Force INCO to address cases of pollution, and to return land to communities
4. To give just compensation to the communities impacted by PT INCO
5. To renegotiate the Contract of Work with the three provincial governments in Sulawesi, and involve community in the process.

Indonesia South Sulawesi

Position Statement from Bahumontefe and Onepute Jaya

Morowali, 7 October 2003

PT INCO’s nickel exploration and exploitation all over the world has pushed boundaries of the human race. INCO operations in many parts of the world have resulted in human rights abuses, violence, environmental destruction and the displacement of the communities who live in the areas close to INCO operations. The accumulation of these infractions has resulted in sharp criticism from the NGO community, victims, and also from other sectors of community around the world.

INCO operates not only in Canada, but as PT Inco they have also expanded into some other countries, such as New Caledonia, and Indonesia. Inco has been in operation in Sulawesi since 1968, when they signed a Contract of Work, second generation, which permitted them to conduct activities for 30 years. With this permit, Inco’s total area of operation was as much as 6.6 million hectares, encompassing three provinces in Sulawesi. The centre of mining operations is in Soroako, North Luwu district, with 54.17% in South Sulawesi, 29.06% South East Sulawesi, and 16.76 % in Central Sulawesi. In 1996, PT Inco extended their contract to the year 2025.

In terms of benefits for Indonesia, the government only receives a small amount of royalties from mining. PT. INCO pays 0.015% of the price of every kilogram of nickel they extract, and the rent that is paid on their leased land is only $1 per hectare every year. The Sulawesi House of Representatives have demanded that the central Indonesian government renegotiate the Contract of Work with PT INCO.

In Central Sulawesi, PT INCO has developed a mining location in the Bahodapi Block, in the village of Bahumonte, and has created serious problems to the area. The concession area the PT INCO has is also land that was traditionally the property of the indigenous peoples of this region. Many problems with land rights have arisen, as the people of Onepute Jaya have been relocated to another location, and have lost their traditional land. The local government has chosen the relocation process, even though it has been long, and unfair. The community is demanding certificates of land ownership for the people of Onepute Jaya.

For all of the above reasons, the communities of Bahumontefe and Onepute Jaya present this position of demands to the Government of Morowali and PT INCO

1.Involve community in Inco Community Development projects

2.To grant land certificates to communities and those who have been resettled to onepute jaya
3.To involve community in the negotiation process with Inco
4.Community must be shareholders in Pt. Inco in Bungku
5.Create solutions to the community demands that have been agreed to
6.Inco must clearly state their intentions to mine

Global Demands are to:
Stop Trans National Corporation (TNC’s)

We also call for solidarity to demand:
Investigate human rights abuses in Sulawesi Territory
Statement of Demand from the Communities of Bahumontefe and Onepute Jaya

Coordinator of Action

Indonesia Central Sulawesi

Statement of Position - Coalition for Global Justice and Future Earth, Sulawesi

Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia October 7, 2003

INCO Ltd is one of the world’s mining giants, with their head office in Toronto, Canada. Inco Ltd along with Russian conglomerate Norilsk and the Canadian nickel company Flaconbridge supply almost half the world’s nickel demand and accounts for 25% of the world’s nickel market. In the course of their business, Inco has pushed their way into 14 countries and is fully involved in the industry from exploration, production, marketing and sale of nickel.

Indonesia is one of the countries that Inco has focused on for expansion through PT Inco, whose parent company is Inco Ltd. Since 1968, PT Inco has held a Contract of Work for mining for 30 years (1968-1988) by the Indonesian government in Sulawesi, and then in 1996, when the Soeharto regime modified their permits, Inco was granted an extension of their Contract of Work until 2025 which includes an area of 6.6 million hectares. Inco Ltd controls 59% of PT Inco, while 20% of the shares in the company were sold to Sumitomo Metal Mining, a Japanese outfit, and the remaining 20% were made public. This means that almost 80% of the company is foreign controlled.

Inco Ltd is not only present in Sulawesi, but is the parent company in other mining operations, such as Maluku, under the name PT Ingold Maluku I (85% shares controlled by Inco as Maluku Holding Inc.), which mines tin, copper, zinc with an area of 106,489 hectares. In West Sumatra and Jambi, Inco is in operation under the name PT. Ingold Sumatera Satu (99% shares controlled by Inco as Ingold Holding Indonesia Inc.), which mines for gold in an area of 350,600 hectares. In Wamena, West Papua, Inco is in operation under the name PT Ingold Antarea (88% shares controlled by Inco as Irianjaya Holding Inc.), which mines for gold in an area 1,069,273 hectares. The total mining areas that are used for extraction by Inco Ltd from Sumatra, Sulawesi, Papua is approximately 8,126, 362 hectares, which is the size of the total land area in the province of Central Sulawesi.

Presently, the mining company PT Inco is still in operation in an area as large as 218,528.99 hectares in three provinces, South Sulawesi (54.17 %), South East Sulawesi (29.0%), and Central Sulawesi (16.76%). The centre for nickel extractrion is in Soroako, in the North Luwu district, South Sulawesi and there are other locations that are still in exploration. In 40 years of nickel mining, PT Inco has earned a lot of profits. In 2001, PT Inco earned $9.3 million and their total assets were in the vicinity of $1.4 billion.

Inco activities have resulted in the marginalization of communities and have infringed upon their social, economic, political, and legal rights; and have resulted in the destruction of the environment, violence and the unjust treatment of peoples. The Soeharto government granted mining concessions that have meant the loss of land rights and social conflicts in areas, such as Soroako, Bahomotefe and Onpute Jaya in Central Sulawesi, where the land, forests and water that were traditionally the source of community livelihoods were claimed by PT Inco. Community residents from Soroako still have received no compensation from the company, and many people who have protested the takeover of their land by the company have been arrested.

There have not only been conflicts about land rights as a result of Inco activities, but also very low environmental and labour standards have meant the exploitation of people and their land. Finally, the communities that are the site of an Inco operation have been “developed” but actually face the risks of environmental and social losses. Other countries where Inco is in operation, that have faced similar problems include Canada, New Caledonia, Guatemala, etc.

The benefits of mining operations are economic supports of royalty payments, and taxes, but in reality this is not the case. From the period of 1988-1998, only 4.37% of the total profits earned by Inco were paid to the government as royalties. This amount is insignificant in relation to the amount the company earns. As well, the royalties are unfairly distributed by the central government, and do not go to local governments to help the people in the areas around operations.

Because of this, we the Coalition for Global Justice and Future Earth declare that we:

I. Reject Inco and the political cronies that support this system of injustice and inequality that causes the communities to suffer and threatens the Earth.
II. Call on the government and other organizations to work to find solutions for the problems that Inco has brought to communities, such as forcing Inco to give compensation for lost lands and livelihoods.
III. Call on the government to change the laws that regulate the mining industry. Privatization is not a good policy as it does not integrate the needs of the people and results in low environmental and social standards.
IV. Support the international campaign that protests Inco.

(Statement supplied by ARISTAN,
Coordinator, Coalition for Global Justice and Future Earth)

Kanakay-Nouvelle Caledonie Goro Nickel
(English version below)

Comité de Suivi du Projet
Le 7 Ocobre 2003

Le 07 Octobre 2003 a été choisi par l’ensemble des communautés dans le monde rencontrant des difficultés et subissant des injustices provenant des activités de la Société Canadienne INCO pour engager une action commune et solidaire de dénonciation.

Le Comité RHEEBU NUU représentant les populations Autochtones Kanak de Yaté et du Sud de la Kanaky-Nouvelle Calédonie, salue cette initiative et manifeste sa solidarité avec cette action.

La société INCO est présente en Nouvelle Calédonie depuis plus de cent ans .Comme d’autres grandes multinationales, cette société ne connaît que la loi du profit et n’a développé jusqu’ici que des rapports de domination économique. Dans le projet de construction de l’usine de Goro Nickel, le gisement de 6 millions de tonnes nickel métal a été acquis pour 20 millions de dollars US et un nouveau gisement de 4 millions de tonnes métal Nickel (le gisement de Prony) a été cédé en 2002 gratuitement par les autorités politiques de la Province Sud. Sur ce projet, INCO après avoir fait miroité un développement économique exceptionnel, conditionne aujourd’hui la réalisation de son projet à l’octroi d’une subvention de l’Etat Français de plus de 25 % de l’investissement. Par ailleurs, un cadeau fiscal (exonération totale des impôts et taxes sur 15 ans) de la Nouvelle Calédonie estimé à 35 % de l’investissement a déjà été voté. Les seules retombées financières pour la Nouvelle Calédonie sont estimées par INCO à hauteur de 22 % du chiffre d’affaire annuel.

Le comité RHEEBU NUU a exigé et obtenu une étude diagnostic de l’étude d’impact environnementale dont les points les plus critiques restent la diffusion et le relarguage de métaux lourds dans la nature et le lagon. Un an après le premier démarrage du projet (aujourd’hui suspendu), l’étude sur l’impact socioculturel du projet sur les populations environnantes vient d’être menée. Ces rapports et leurs recommandations seront présentés à l’assemblée générale du 18 octobre qui va réunir les chefferies Kanak du Comité avec la présence du Sénat Coutumier et de l’Aire Djubéa Kapoume.

Il apparaît clairement depuis le début que tout n’a pas été dit aux populations et que d’autres études plus approfondies devront être conduites avec le concours d’experts internationaux.

Le comité RHEEBU NUU s’associe enfin à la volonté exprimée par toutes les peuples autochtones et par les communautés en prise direct avec l’action d’exploitation des compagnies minières et industrielles, pour un changement des rapports économiques, la promotion et le respect de l’environnement humain et écologique et pour un partenariat équilibré « Win / Win ou gagnant/gagnant ». Dans cette démarche nouvelle, nous demandons à ce que les droits autochtones soient reconnus et pris en compte par les compagnies minières présentes en Nouvelle Calédonie et partout dans le monde.

Raphaêl MAPOU,
Président du Comité.

Kanaky-New Caledonia Goro Nickel
(English Version)

October 7, 2003

Press Release

October 7, 2003 was chosen by communities throughout the world who have encountered difficulties and suffered injustices from the activities of the Canadian company INCO in order to engage in solidarity with a common act of denunciation.

The RHEEBU NUU Committee, representing the Indigenous Kanak people of Yaté and from the South of Kanaky-New Caledonia, salutes this initiative and manifests its solidarity with this action.

INCO has been present in New Caledonia for more than 100 years. Like other large multinational corporations, this company knows only the “Law of Profit” and has only developed relationships based upon economic domination. For the construction of the Goro Nickel plant, a deposit of 6 million tonnes of nickel was acquired for $20 million U.S. and a new deposit of 4 million tonnes of nickel (Prony concession) was freely surrendered by the political authorities of the Southern Province in 2002. After having made an enticing promise of exceptional economic development, INCO is making the project conditional on the granting of a subsidy from the French State, for more than 25% of its investment. Furthermore, New Caledonia has already agreed a fiscal gift (total tax exemption for 15 years) estimated at 35% of the investment. The only financial benefits for New Caledonia are estimated by INCO to be 22% of the annual turnover at most.

The RHEEBU NUU Committee demanded and obtained an analysis of the Environmental Impact Study whose most critical points remain the diffusion and uptake of heavy metals in nature and the lagoon. One year after the project’s initiation (it is currently suspended), the study of socio-cultural impacts on the surrounding populations has just been conducted.

These reports and their recommendations will be presented at the General Assembly on October 18, 2003 at which Kanak Chiefs from the Committee will meet in the presence of the Customary Senate and the l'Aire Djubéa Kapoume.

It has been clear since the beginning that everything has not been communicated to the people and that other more detailed studies must be conducted with the support of international experts.

Finally, the RHEEBU NUU Committee allies itself with the wishes expressed by all indigenous peoples and communities directly impacted by acts of exploitation by mining and industrial companies, for a change in economic relations, promotion and respect for the human and ecological environment, and for a fair “Win-Win” partnership. In taking this new step, we demand that indigenous rights be recognized and taken into account by mining companies present in New Caledonia and throughout the world.

Raphaêl MAPOU
President of the Committee

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