MAC: Mines and Communities

New Zealand public fund bids "Goodbye to Freeport"

Published by MAC on 2012-10-02
Source: Indonesia Human Rights Committee

Human Rights abuses cited in investment pull-out

New Zealand's government Superannuation Fund is selling its investment in US mining company, Freeport McMoran, over human rights abuses associated with the company's massive Grasberg mine.

The announcement has been warmly-greeted by many in Papua and Indonesia.

To our knowledge, the Fund has not yet disinvested from Rio Tinto, although it almost certainly has an investment in the UK-Australian mining giant.

Norway's state Pension Fund did so, four years ago, citing Rio Tinto's complicity as a joint venture partner with Freeport in Papua.

Indonesia Human Rights Committee applauds NZ Superannuation Fund decision on Freeport McMoran

Indonesia Human Rights Committee

27 September 2012

IHRC is delighted that the NZ Superannuation Fund has decided to pull its investments from the Freeport McMoran mining giant. (NZ Superannuation Fund Media Release 26 September, 2012)

‘We have been campaigning for the Superannuation Fund and other Crown Financial Institutes to divest from Freeport for six years and we know the news will be welcomed the West Papuan people who have been campaigning about the mine's impact on their communities for decades.'

‘The Norwegian Pension Fund divested from Freeport several years ago on environmental grounds, but the NZ Superannuation Fund has stated that the breaches of human rights by the security forces were the critical factor in their decision making. So this is an advance.'

‘We intend to call to the Super Fund Offices in Auckland on Friday to make a personal acknowledgement of this important step.'

Freeport has been directly or indirectly responsible for gross human rights abuses in West Papua since it was first granted a highly favourable contract to exploit gold and copper in the days of the Suharto dictatorship.

These abuses include torture, illegal detentions, and killings. These days the area close to mine is no-go area and an area where the Indonesian security forces rule the roost. Shooting deaths are regular occurrence on the access road and last October police killed a miner and injured several others who were carrying out a lawful strike.

According to Rev Socrates Yoman a leading human rights advocate Freeport is like an ATM for the security forces - when there is conflict they can be sure of money.

The mine has destroyed a mountain considered sacred by the indigenous Amungme people and displaced thousands, destroying their forest-based subsistence lifestyle in the process. Local people live below the poverty line- only Jakarta and the mining magnates get the wealth from the enormously profitable mining enterprise.

Freeport uses a system for disposing of the mine waste tailings in the river system -outlawed almost everywhere else in the world. Over 200, 000 tonnes of waste a day are deposited in the river leading to the creation of vast dead zone where nothing grows.

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