Communities Urge Gold Miner Newmont to ReformPublished by MAC on 2005-04-27
Newmont CEO meets critics from across globe
By Greg Griffin Denver Post Staff Writer, The Denver Post
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Some of the environmental activists in Denver for Newmont Mining's annual meeting are, from left, Stephanie Roth of Romania, Daniel Owusu-Koranteng of Ghana, Nur Hidayati of Indonesia and Michael Anane of Ghana. Other protesters come from Peru and the United States.
Newmont Mining Corp.'s opponents used to taunt executives from the sidewalk at the company's annual meetings. Now they meet with the CEO in the company's high-rise headquarters.
About a dozen environmental activists from five countries are in Denver for Newmont's shareholder gathering at the Brown Palace hotel this morning.
It's a bigger protest group than Newmont usually faces on its turf, and the first time the company has put chief executive Wayne Murdy in a room with annual-meeting protesters. The company faced growing opposition to its operations across the globe in 2004, particularly in Indonesia and Peru.
The activists - from those countries as well as Ghana, Romania and the United States - said they're hopeful the meetings will lead to continued dialogue over a host of environmental and social problems they blame on Newmont. But they said meetings with Murdy on Tuesday produced little progress.
"We were able to touch on the principal issues that we have between the company and the communities, but in reality, they are old issues," said Marco Arana, who has led protests against Newmont's Yanacocha gold mine in northern Peru. "Perhaps the fact that we spoke with Wayne Murdy will help Newmont make important decisions."
Murdy was not available for comment Tuesday. Newmont spokesman Doug Hock said the first meetings on Tuesday were "very good, very productive."
"We took the time to listen and learn, and we look forward to more productive dialogue going forward," he said.
The activists will be at the 10 a.m. annual meeting. They can make two-minute statements.
Arana said he may ask Newmont to outline its growth plans for Yanacocha. Massive protests last fall forced the company to halt a major expansion of South America's largest gold mine and remove about 2 million ounces of gold from its reserves. During their meeting Tuesday, Murdy would not commit to ruling out the expansion forever, Arana said.
"I want to know where they think they will grow," he said. "If they think they'll do it in the same way as in the past and grow with no control, they better be careful because they're going to have a violent situation."
Two U.S. environmental groups, Oxfam America and Earthworks, organized this week's protests. They helped pay some of the activists' travel expenses and accompanied them to Denver.
In Ghana, where Newmont is developing two large gold mines, activists say they're seeing problems they've heard about in Peru and Indonesia, including polluted water, forced removal of farmers from property and meager compensation for land.
"We are concerned that Newmont is coming to Ghana with all these experiences and repeating all their mistakes," Ghanaian environmentalist Daniel Owusu-Koranteng said.
Staff writer Steve Raabe contributed to this report.
Communities Urge Gold Miner Newmont to Reform
Joint Press Release For Immediate Release: Wed, April 24, 2005
Alburnus Maior, WACAM, WALHI (Indonesian Forum for Environment), Western Shoshone Nation, FIAN- Ghana, GRUFIDES, JATAM (Mining Advocacy Network-Indonesia), EARTHWORKS
For More Information: Harlin Savage, 720-352-2246; Helen DaSilva, 617-331-2984
Denver, CO - Representatives from Ghana, Indonesia, Peru, Romania, and Nevada today called on Newmont Mining, the world's largest gold producer, to urgently reform its human rights and environmental practices at its global operations. Speaking at the company's annual shareholders meeting, representatives demanded that Newmont fully respect human rights, stop intimidation of farmers, community members and individuals critical of its operations, and stop dumping mine wastes into the ocean. They also called on the company to permanently cancel plans for new, open-pit mines on densely populated farmland in Romania, in a Ghanaian forest reserve, and on a mountain in Peru that is a source of community drinking water.
"Although we come from five different continents, we share many similar experiences with Newmont's operations. We also share similar demands: we ask that the company stop polluting our oceans and freshwater with mining waste, stay out of our protected forests, and that it only mine with the informed consent of communities," said Daniel Owusu-Koranteng of Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) in Ghana.
Newmont is facing multi-million dollar lawsuits in Indonesia and Peru. Community protests in Peru nearly forced the closing of the company's most profitable mine, Yanacocha, in September 2004. In 2003, The World Bank declined to finance a proposed mine in Romania in which Newmont recently invested -- a mine that the European Parliament has said could cost Romania entry into the European Union.
The visiting representatives also criticized Newmont for intimidation of its critics, including filing a defamation lawsuit against an Indonesian professor, Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin, who spoke publicly about Newmont's practice of dumping mine waste in Buyat Bay. "I am here because Dr. Rignolda cannot be here as a result of this lawsuit that is meant to intimidate us and stifle our voice," said Nur Hidayati of Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI). "Our communities demand Newmont end its practice of dumping mine wastes into the ocean. This irresponsible practice poses high risks to the environment and the community -- and it is not allowed in the United States where Newmont is based."
Members of the international delegation highlighted the hardships faced by hundreds of farmers in Rosia Montana, Romania, and villagers in the Ahafo region of Ghana, who are being displaced from their homes to make way for large, industrial gold mines owned by Newmont and its partners.
"I have come from Romania to tell Newmont that the people of Rosia Montana will not be forced from our homes and our land," stated Stephanie Roth of Alburnus Maior, a community group of farmers and property owners in Rosia Montana. "Newmont has not obtained the community's consent to operate in Rosia Montana. It's time for them to cut their losses and leave the project."
"We have been trying to engage with Newmont for several years and have yet to see real change in their practices," said Father Marco Arana of Grufides, an environmental and social justice organization based in Cajamarca, Peru. "It took 30,000 people protesting in the streets of Cajamarca for them to finally recognize there were serious problems."
Newmont has had trouble with its operations much closer to home as well. In Nevada, the Western Shoshone people continue to defend their right to live off of their own land, in their traditional lifestyle. "Any damage to our land has a direct impact on our people, our home, and our cultural and spiritual way of life, said Kristi Begay, a member of the Western Shoshone Nation, and a Wells Band Council Chairwoman. "Although our elders are passing on, as the younger generation, we will continue this fight until our issues and concerns are resolved."
While each member of this international delegation has unique concerns, all representatives have these demands in common and call on Newmont Mining to:
Respect human rights by: * Fully respecting all human rights and not committing human rights violations, including intimidation of community members and activists.
* Refraining from projects that have not secured the free, prior, and informed consent of the communities concerned.
* Fully disclosing information about the environmental and social impacts of projects.
* Providing fair and just compensation for local communities affected by mining.
* Respecting the spiritual and cultural values of communities.
Respect the environment by: * Ending the practice of ocean dumping of mine wastes.
* Protecting water resources from pollution and depletion.
* Keeping sites of spiritual significance and protected areas off limits from mining.
* Ensuring that operations will not result in sulfuric acid drainage to water and soil.
* Providing guaranteed funding, before beginning a project, that will fully cover reclamation and closure costs.
* Addressing needs left behind by closed mines such as clean-up, reclamation, remedying health impacts, and making land compensations.
A brief profile and statement from each representative follows:
STEPHANIE ROTH, ROSIA MONTANA, ROMANIA Roth is a former researcher and editor at the London-based magazine The Ecologist who was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize this week for her work with Alburnus Maior, a community group working with farmers and property owners in Rosia Montana, Romania, to halt development of Europe's largest open-pit cyanide leach gold mine. The proposed mine, owned by Gabriel Resources and Newmont Mining Corp., would displace 2,000 residents and put four huge open pits and an unlined mine-waste lagoon in this densely populated agricultural region.
KRISTI BEGAY, WELLS, NEVADA Begay, a member of the Western Shoshone Nation, is the Wells Band Council Chairwoman. Begay is working to protect Western Shoshone cultural and spiritual sites threatened by gold mining.
MIKE ANANE, ACCRA, GHANA Anane is a veteran environmental journalist and founder of Ghana's League of Environmental Journalists. In 1998, Anane won a United Nations Global 500 award for his coverage of toxic pollution and other environmental issues in Ghana. Newmont owns significant interest in two Ghanaian mines: the Akyem mine, which is located inside one of Ghana's forest reserves and scheduled to begin production in 2007; and the Ahafo mine, which is scheduled to begin production in 2006. Anane represents the League of Environmental Journalists and is a member of the National Coalition of Civil Society Groups Against Mining in Ghana's Forest Reserves.
DANIEL OWUSU-KORANTENG, ACCRA, GHANA Daniel Owusu-Koranteng is Executive Director of the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), a Ghanaian community-based non-profit organization with a mission to protect the environment, natural resources, and the rights of marginalized communities affected by mining. He cofounded WACAM in 1998 with his wife, Hannah Owusu-Koranteng.
MARCO ARANA, CAJAMARCA, PERU Marco Antonia Arana Zegarra is a diocesan priest and executive director of GRUFIDES, an environmental and social justice organization based in Cajamarca, Peru, that trains people in communities affected by mining in advocacy and environmental monitoring. In 2004, Arana was awarded the National Ángel Escobar Jurado Human Rights Prize in recognition of his key role in resolving conflict between Newmont Mining Company/Minera Yanacocha and the communities in Cajamarca. Awarded by Peru's National Coordinator of Human Rights, it is Peru's most prominent human rights prize.
MIRTHA VASQUEZ, CAJAMARCA, PERU Mirth Vasquez is a member of the Cajamarca community and a lawyer with GRUFIDES, an environmental and social justice organization based in Cajamarca, Peru.
NUR HIDAYATI, JAKARTA, INDONESIA Nur Hidayati is with Indonesian Forum on Environment, one of the Jakarta-based environmental organizations monitoring the Buyat Bay pollution case. She works on mining campaigns in support of local communities across Indonesia, and she is also involved in the campaign to protect Indonesian forests from mining.
For more information, contact Harlin Savage (720) 352-2246 or Helen DaSilva (617) 331-2984.
Media Advisory: Buyat Bay not an isolated case
Indonesian and other Communities Challenge Newmont Mining at Annual Shareholders Meeting in Denver; Company Faces Allegations of Intimidation, Water Pollution, Destruction of Traditional Livelihoods
Contact: Denver: Helen DaSilva, +1 617-331-2984 or Harlin Savage, +1 720-352-2246. Jakarta: Radja Siregar +62 811 53349
The anger of the Buyat, North Sulawesi community over pollution of Buyat Bay is not an isolated case of community accusations of Newmont malpractice. Denver-based Newmont Mining Corp., the world's largest gold producer, is under growing pressure to reform its global operations. Newmont is facing multi-million dollar lawsuits in Indonesia and Peru and community unrest in Ghana, Peru, and Romania. Community protests in Peru nearly forced closing of the company's most profitable mine last year for two weeks. The World Bank declined to finance a proposed mine in Romania in which Newmont recently invested -- a mine that the European Parliament has said could cost Romania entry into the European Union.
SPEAKING OUT TO SHAREHOLDERS AND MEDIA:
-- Stephanie Roth, Rosia Montana, Romania: Roth is a former editor of the London-based magazine The Ecologist who was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her work with Alburnus Maior, an association of Rosia, Montana's farmers and property-owners working to halt development of Europe's largest open-pit gold mine.
-- Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Tema, Ghana: Owusu-Koranteng is executive director of the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), a Ghanaian community-based non-profit organization with a mission to protect the environment and the rights of communities affected by mining.
-- Nur Hidayati, Jakarta, Indonesia: Nur Hidayati is with Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI), one of the Indonesian environmental organizations calling for end to ocean dumping of mine waste.
-- Fr. Marco Arana, Cajamarca, Peru: Marco Antonia Arana Zegarra is a diocesan priest and executive director of GRUFIDES, an environmental and social justice organization based in Cajamarca, Peru.
-- Kristi Begay, Wells, Nev.: Begay, a member of the Western Shoshone Nation, is the Wells Band Council Chairwoman. Begay is working to protect Western Shoshone cultural and spiritual sites threatened by gold mining.
Stand by for news of the voice of community protest at Newmont's Shareholders Meeting, taking place in Denver this evening, Jakarta time. A press conference involveing the speakers listed above is being held ahead of the Newmont Shareholders Meeting on Wednesday, April 27, 9 a.m. (22:00 Jakarta time) at Brown Palace Hotel, 2nd floor, Central City Room, 321 17th Street, Denver, Colo.
Turkish Gold Mine to Resume Production - Owner
April 28, 2005
ISTANBUL - A Turkish court has overturned a ruling that suspended work at a controversial gold mine sold by US-based Newmont last month, paving the way for it to resume operations, the mine's new owner said.
Production has been off and on at the Ovacik gold mine near Bergama in western Turkey for more than a decade amid environmental protests and legal challenges from local people over the use of a cyanide-leaching method for extracting gold. Turkish printing group Koza Davetiye's construction unit ATP Insaat bought Ovacik from the world's largest gold producer Newmont Mining Corp for $44.5 million on March 1.
"Mining activities were halted while the court investigated the matter. A (higher) court has overturned that decision," Koza's chairman Akin Ipek said in a written statement last week.
"Therefore no legal obstacles prevent the mine from resuming production remain," Ipek said.
He said he expected to receive permission soon to reopen Ovacik, whose latest stop-work order came in August 2004 following a renewed legal challenge.
Ipek said daily testing at the mine over the past three years had shown it presents no risks to the environment or the health of residents.
Ovacik was established in 1989 as Eurogold. It became Normandy Mining in 2001 and briefly extracted gold before a court order stopped it.
Australia's Normandy merged with Newmont in 2002.