MAC: Mines and Communities

Further updates on Buyut Bay - Newmont employees released & arguments over evidence

Published by MAC on 2004-10-31

Buyat/Newmont: Experts speak on CSIRO, WHO reports; Government report due

MEDIA ADVISORY: WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia & Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM)

Sunday, 31 October 2004

Jakarta (Indonesia), 31 October 2004 -- Scientific and medical experts in Australia and the US have debunked Newmont's media claims that it's mine waste dumping operation received the all-clear from studies by the World Health Organisation/ Minamata Institute [1] and Australian research body CSIRO.

"CSIRO's data makes it clear that the millions of tons of Newmont's mine tailings in Buyat Bay are a continuous source of toxic metals," said Dr Alan Tingay, a Environmental Scientist with many years experience in mining consulting.

Speaking from the Australian mining centre of Perth, Dr Tingay continued; "Whether they have been a source of health effects over the many years of tailings dumping remains unclear; however, Newmont now needs to determine how they are going to stop the release of these toxic substances into the Bay that is the basis of these people's livelihoods." [2: For further details, see scientific critique of the CSIRO report.]

The World Health Organisation in Indonesia together with Japanese Institute for Minamata Disease conducted an investigation published on 8 September. Newmont pointed to the WHO report's findings as proof that Buyat Bay is not polluted. Staff of the World Health Organisation have however stated that the WHO investigation had the specific objective to see whether people were suffering from Minamata Disease as was initially reported in some Indonesian media, and should by no means be taken as an in-depth study into general environmental or health conditions.

"Newmont has jumped the gun in proclaiming its innocence," wrote David Silver, M.D., Assistant clinical professor at the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, University of Colorado after a recent visit to Buyat Bay and the mine area.

"As I myself have personally observed from recent visits to Buyat Bay, there is no question that local villagers who drink water, bathe and fish there, are suffering from a variety of chronic health problems. We should not be ruling out the possibility that, even at low levels, long-term exposure to chemicals typically found in mine tailings - such as arsenic, antimony, cadmium, cyanide, zinc, lead, copper and nickel - could be contributing to the villagers' health problems," concluded Dr. Silver.

Report will end mix-up around Newmont pollution by other previous studies

WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia and the Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) today looks forward to the news that the Joint Technical Team convened by the Indonesian Environment Department will soon publish the results of its investigation at Buyat Bay [3]. The Joint Team's findings are aimed at putting an end to ongoing confusion over pollution of Buyat Bay by US mining giant, Newmont.

Raja Siregar, a researcher with WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia who is participating in the team has this to say:

"It is by far the most comprehensive and thorough study ever done on the case. It covers all physical, chemical, and biological aspects as well as what those findings means in relation to the environmental quality of the bay and its potential impacts on marine life and human beings. This is unlike other previous studies which have only gone as far as looking into the condition of the waters (physical and chemical aspects). The results will represent the actual condition of the bay and people living around it as well as its source of pollution."

Added Siti Maimunah, Coordinator of Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM):

"The team's work and potential results, which will include an analysis of potential legal steps, will represent a participative multi-stakeholder effort including Indonesian government, NGOs, and Newmont. The team has gone through a difficult yet fruitful process to investigate the pollution. We hope that the results will end the confusion in the media and the public on the case as a result of Newmont's recent PR spin and the partial and misleading 14 Oct report by the now-former Environment Minister Nabiel Makarim."

The Technical Team of the Government-convened Joint Investigation on Buyat Bay is the official, multi stakeholder team formed in early August 2004 as an Indonesian government initiative to tackle the issue of the health problems allegedly due to Newmont's pollution of the bay. Since August, the team has collected no less than 200 samples - more than any other studies - and examined and discussed them thoroughly involving all members of the team.


[1] The WHO/Minamata team included Jan A. Speets (Advisor Environmental Health) and other staff from WHO Jakarta office.

[2] Please see attached a scientific critique of the CSIRO report, also available on WALHI's website at
· The CSIRO report is available by email from Estee:
· The WHO/Minamata report is available from at

[3] The Environment Department press release is available in Indonesian at


- The English version of our latest releases on the Buyat/Newmont case are available at:

Critique of the 'Buyat Bay' CSIRO Environmental Monitoring study commissioned by PT Newmont Minahasa Raya (2004)

Mineral Policy Institute, Australia (

31 October 2004

1. CSIRO results indicate mine pollution at toxic levels

1.1 Toxic metals Arsenic and Antimony in Buyat Bay sediment exceed international guidelines.
Australian, US, and Canadian marine environment quality guidelines indicate thresholds where ecological impacts can be expected from heavy metal pollution in sediment. The Australia/NZ guidelines for arsenic in sediment range from 20 (low) - 70 ppm (high range). Similarly, US and Canadian guidelines identify a Probable Effects Level of 42 ppm arsenic in marine sediment. The background (natural) levels of arsenic measured by CSIRO at control sites unaffected by mine waste near Buyat Bay are at or below this level of 42 ppm.

Meanwhile, the CSIRO sampling of Buyat Bay found extremely high levels of 678 ppm, 491 ppm and 466 ppm arsenic in the area most affected by mine tailings, and the CSIRO report notes that Newmont's own monitoring has discovered levels as high as 1190 ppm arsenic. CSIRO findings show the seabed at Buyat Bay is contaminated by tailings with arsenic at ten to twenty times higher than the Australia/NZ guidelines and the US/Canadian Probable (toxic) Effects Level.

Similar results were found for Antimony in Buyat Bay sediment, another toxic heavy metal contained in Newmont's mine tailings. The CSIRO found Antimony at 255 ppm, 208 ppm and 188 ppm in the tailings-affected area in Buyat Bay, compared with natural levels at nearby control sites of 20 ppm. CSIRO mentions that Newmont has found levels as high as 1330 ppm and 1160 ppm Antimony. CSIRO findings show that the seabed of Buyat Bay is contaminated by Antimony in Newmont's tailings, at a level which exceeds guidelines from US/Canada (9 ppm) and Australia/NZ (25 ppm) by approximately ten times.

1.2 Toxic metals in tailings are being released to the environment.
CSIRO collected water samples and compared the levels of toxic metals at several depths above the Buyat Bay sea floor. For example, at Buyat Bay sample site B, the CSIRO found that arsenic in seawater 9 meters above the bottom is two-and-a-half times higher than concentrations at a depth 14 meters higher, and Mercury in seawater 9 meters above the bottom is more than 10 times higher than concentrations at a depth 14 meters higher.

There is a striking correlation - the closer samples are taken to the tailings on the sea floor, the higher the level of toxic metals such as arsenic. This is an important finding because Newmont has asserted that the heavy metals in the tailings are not significantly soluble and do not act as a source of metals contamination. CSIRO's data indicates that the millions of tons of Newmont's mine tailings in Buyat Bay are in fact continuously releasing metals into Buyat Bay, a situation which is acknowledged in the first paragraph, page 20 of the CSIRO report.

2. CSIRO study seriously flawed.

The CSIRO laboratory processes are state-of-the-art, indeed much of the document is taken up with description of the sampling methods and analytical procedures. However, the same thoroughness and attention to accuracy was unfortunately not exercised with sampling design, and with the discussion and all-important conclusions and executive summary.

2.1 Inadequacies in the CSIRO study.
· The half-page introduction is no adequate background explanation of the ore body, mining, gold extraction and waste processing. The CSIRO report actually begins with the misleading statement that "mining ceased in October 2001". Excavation ended on that date, but what most people regard as mining activity, i.e. the processing of ore and disposal of mine wastes continued three more years until end of August 2004.

· There is no quantification of the rate of tailings disposal (over 2,000 tons / day) nor of the total volume of waste disposed of into Buyat Bay (in the millions of cubic meters). These factors which dictate the total supply and future fate of heavy metals in tailings in Buyat Bay have crucial importance for proper sampling design. Contamination of the food web by heavy metals such as arsenic is a gradual and steadily ongoing process, as long as the heavy metal contaminated sediment remains in Buyat Bay. The report does not adequately consider the quantity and future fate of the heavy metals in sediment over the coming years.

· There is no clear basis for selecting a limited range of contaminants to analyse. The CSIRO only considered 5 metals, plus arsenic and cyanide. Ideally the selection of substances for analysis should be based on the composition of the ore body, and chemical reagents used in tailings. In the absence of such information, it would be appropriate to include cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel and zinc.

· There is no discussion of the pressing issues in the report apart from a mention of 'community concerns about contamination of coastal waters'. The study designer needs to ask: what are the community concerns - health, water pollution, decline in fishery, fish kills or diseases, etc? It is usual to identify these concerns in order to provide a basis for the sampling design.

· The sampling did not examine a representative range of marine life. The sampling design should take account of the ecology of the species involved (especially the likelihood of long term residence in Buyat Bay, feeding behaviour and food items), consumption rates and other factors. Appropriate target species should be resident in Buyat Bay rather than passing through. The location where the fish were caught also should be documented, and better still controlled so that they definitely come from the impact area. Quite a few of the fish were bought in the local markets which provides no certainty that the fish came from the bay. Many marine species of key ecological importance were not sampled, such as ecologically crucial plankton, and non-fish marine food species such as filter-feeding mussels, prawns, crabs and so on. The key "not polluted" conclusion on page 43 therefore is not proven.

· The fish, sediment and water samples collected over such a limited period of time, only 2 days, do not allow for seasonal and weather variability both on land (fluctuation in river flows and groundwater) and at sea (currents, tides, wave action) which affect such phenomena as sediment transport, disturbance, and dissolved metals levels in groundwater. Such limited sampling is inadequate to draw general conclusions.

· The study uses only a few seawater sampling locations in Buyat Bay and the sampling at each site occurred over a limited time. As a result the design does not adequately allow for variability. For example, in the tailings disposal area there are only 3 samples from the top, middle and bottom of the water column at 3 sites (9 in total) all of which were collected over a few hours. Multiple samples should have been collected at each depth, at regular intervals over a reasonable period, and at a number of sites. The CSIRO samples are insufficient for general conclusions to be drawn from the results.

· Similarly, the number of sediment samples at each location is low: 3 for the tailings area, and only 1 at each of the rivers , the lake and the reference sites. No allowance for spatial variation. This may be why much higher levels of arsenic, mercury, antimony and zinc were recorded in the PT NMR studies - there were insufficient samples in the CSIRO study to account for the variation.

2.2 Inadequate and misleading discussion and conclusions
Language used in the executive summary glosses over negative findings. Executive Summary point 5 reads: "significant enrichment of arsenic and antimony in the area affected by tailings deposition in Buyat Bay". This is misleadingly innocuous language which fails to mention the order of magnitude of metal pollution above international guidelines.

The CSIRO study is not truly "independent". The existence of the CSIRO study first came to public attention following a report about pollution in Buyat Bay published in the New York Times. Newmont referred to the CSIRO testing in a media release the following day entitled "Newmont Responds to New York Times" (Sept 8, 2004). The following day, non-government organisations contacted the CSIRO and requested a copy of the report. One week later, the CSIRO explained that the report was not yet completed, and that Newmont had quoted partial results relating to seawater samples only. The CSIRO further indicated that the scope and results of the CSIRO study could only be released with the permission of Newmont's lawyers. The report was finally officially sent to a US non-government organisation by Newmont on the 28th of October 2004.

The senior principal research scientist involved in the CSIRO study also has a history as a consultant to the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea, which together with the Ok Tedi mine, is one of only a handful of mines in the world which practices the destructive practise of disposing of mine waste directly into a river system. Newmont's quoting of results prior to report completion, the lack of transparency by researchers, and the fee-for-consultancy relationship between CSIRO researchers and mining companies disposing of mine waste directly into rivers and oceans means the report can be seen as far from "independent".

Media reports absolving Newmont are incorrect: Oct 14th Env Minister Report on Newmont/Buyat is Partial and Misleading

Joint Media Release - WALHI-FoE Indonesia, ICEL, JATAM, ELSAM, and TAPAL [3]

21 October 2004

Jakarta, (Indonesia), 21 October 2004 -- WALHI-FoE Indonesia, ICEL, JATAM, ELSAM, and TAPAL strongly criticise the action of Nabiel Makarim, in his final days as outgoing Indonesian Environment Minister for releasing a report based on partial selected results [1] regarding the severity of pollution of Buyat Bay by millions of tons of Newmont's mine waste (report dated 14 October 2004).

Conclusions based on results published in the now-ex-Minister's report were put together one-sidedly by the Minister while the official Environment Department-convened Joint Investigative Team on Buyat Bay was in the midst of a-two-day intensive analysis (18-19/10) of the lab results of 200 samples taken from Buyat Bay and surrounds. The official investigative team including senior Env Ministry staff which was working on the Ministry premises was not aware of the Minister's action of releasing his own one-sided conclusions in an unofficial briefing to selected media.

“The former Minister's immoral action has created an embarrassing scandal which tarnishes the post of Environment Minister. International media who were unaware of the background of the investigation have been mislead into publishing incorrect reports that the Oct 14 report is the official and final result of the work of the Joint Investigation Team on Buyat case,” said Siti Maimunah of Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM).

”As of today the team HAS NOT RELEASED the full test results nor a full and final report based on their field findings (see team's work timeline below [2]).The Minister's report dated Oct 14th is not sufficient basis for drawing accurate conclusions, and has lead to misleading media reports on pollution in Buyat Bay,” stated Raja Siregar of WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia who has been actively participating in the Joint Investigative Team.

Indonesian environmental groups, such as WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), have shown good faith with the environment department by participating within the Joint Investigative Team : and have been joined by other government bodies, academics, and experts. The NGO decision to participate was made in good faith in the interest of accurate public debate, despite the fact that the Environment Minister has shown dogged support for Newmont regardless of scientific concerns and community complaints over several years.

WALHI, ICEL, and JATAM deeply regret that the Environment Minister, Nabiel Makarim, has broken his own commitment to the official process by pre-emptively releasing partial and one-sided results.

We are forced to conclude that the Environment Minister has never had good intentions to resolve the Buyat Bay pollution case. The Minister has committed an unethical act and misled the public. From his track record throughout the Buyat case so far, the minister, Nabiel Makarim, has positioned himself as the number one supporter of PT Newmont Minahasa Raya. It is deeply regretable that he has chosen to ignore the suffering of the Buyat community and the destruction of their environment.

“We are calling on the Indonesian Police to remain uninfluenced by the former Environment Minister's report and all of Newmont's recent advertorials and to carry on with the ongoing legal process,” stated Kurniawan Adi Nugroho of the Advocacy Team for the Defense of Environmental Activists (TAPAL).

WALHI, ICEL, JATAM, TAPAL, and ELSAM are calling for firm and immediate action by anticorruption authorities to investigate the motives and the conflict of interest behind this scandal. [end]

FOR COMMENTS [4], contact :

P. Raja Siregar -- WALHI (+62 811 1533 49);
Siti Maimunah -- JATAM (+62 811 920 462)
Nur Hidayati -- WALHI (+62 21 7919 3363 or handphone +62 812 997 2642);


[1] See attached Explanation of developments in the joint investigative team on Buyat Bay

[2] Working Timeline of the Joint Investigative Team on the Buyat Case

Time and Activities:

28 August – 12 September
Technical Team takes field data

13 October
First meeting of the Technical Team at Salak Hotel, Bogor. In this meeting, the secretary of technical team conveyed the following demands of the Indonesian Environment Minister :
That the field data will not be made public due to pending analysis
All data from the study and laboratorium will be compiled together on October 15, 2004
On October 18, data will be distributed to members of the technical team for joint analysis
18 – 19 October
Meeting of technical team to analize field data, and draw conclusion and recommendations from field findings

20 October
Drafting of the result of the analysis of water quality biology and law enforcement study which will be carried out by Head of Technical Team/Environment Ministry. The draft will then be distributed to technical team members for clarification or correction.

21 October
Technical Team members submit their response and inputs to the draft (of the result of analysis of technical team)

22 October
The Ministry of Environment team compile the final report of the Joint Investigation Team, for official public release.

[3] WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), Advocacy Team for the Defense of Environmental Activists (TAPAL), and the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM)


Call Estee, WALHI’s International Outreach, at mobile: +62-(0)811-89-53-29
or the WALHI office +62-21-794 1672 / +62-21-791 93 363
or e-mail her at

Press Briefing - Explanation of developments in the joint investigative team on Buyat Bay

WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL)

Jakarta, 21 October 2004

A. Introduction

In relation to the suspected pollution and environmental destruction in Buyat Bay as well as health problems of the Buyat people, especially of the Buyat Pante village, the meeting of the Coordinating Minister for Peoples' Welfare of the President Megawati's cabinet on 23 July 2004 decided to form a JOINT TEAM based on the Environment Minister's Decree No. 97/2004 regarding the 'Handling of the Pollution Case of Buyat Bay and Environmental Destruction in Buyat Bay, Ratatotok Timur Subdistrict, Minahasa Regency'. This Joint Team consists of government bodies, academics, researchers, NGOs, the Geologists Association, and the Mining Experts Professional Association.

The JOINT TEAM has undertaken an agreed process, as follows:

1. Expert literature review team (Peer Review): A critical review has been carried out of various existing studies into the environmental condition of Buyat Bay, previously conducted by Newmont Mining, NGOs and other independent bodies. The Peer Review has made the following findings:
· Thermocline: Tailings disposed of at shallow depth where there is no "thermocline" in existence which according to the Environmental Plan, was supposed to provide protection from spread of pollution.
· Biodiversity: Distribution of bottom-dwelling sea creatures (benthos), also phytoplankton and zooplankton in Buyat Bay have been impacted and their normal condition altered.
· Pollution: From various studies there are found increases in the levels of Mercury, Arsenic and Cyanide in Buyat Bay sediment, several species of fish and in water.
· Breaches of laws and regulations;
Found that there are indications that Newmont Mining has breached regulations regarding Dangerous and Toxic Waste (according to regs. No.18/1999 and No.85/1999), in the disposal of mine waste containing Dangerous and Toxic Waste without holding appropriate licenses from the Ministry of Environment and the Head of the Environment Protection Agency.
Found indications that Newmont Mining breached requirements in its operating licenses and in its environmental operating plans and environmental monitoring plans.

2. Collection of field data: samples collected during the period 28 August – 12 September 2004 in Buyat Bay waters, Ratatotok Bay, Ratatatok Village, Buyat Village, Buyat Beach Village, and Basaan Village (as a control) and at the location of Newmont Mining's mine. The field team collected around 200 samples to monitor the sea, land, well water, river water, non-river surface water, sediment and air quality at the study location.

3. Laboratorium analysis; Samples were sent to various labs according to the type of sample and the expertise of the labs, coordinated by the Environment Department.

4. Preliminary meetings of the Technical Team; held at the Hotel Salak, Bogor on 13 October 2004. At this meeting, the secretary of the Technical team, Imam Hendargo, conveyed a request from the Environment Minister, Nabiel Makarim, that:

· Field data not be passed on the members of the Technical Team until the results of all lab analysis have been compiled. It was conveyed that the Environment Minister was worried that there might be interpretations or conclusions made on partial data or with bias.
· All lab data will have been compiled by 15 October 2004;
· On 18 October, new data would be shared with the Technical Team in order to undertake joint interpretation.

5. Technical Team meetings to analyse the field data; were undertaken on 18-19 October 2004 in the offices of the Environment Ministry.

B. Nabiel Makarim's Report dated 14 October 2004

The substance of Nabiel Makarim's Report:
· The Environment Minister Nabiel Makarim's Report dated 14 October 2004 (handed to selected media and later published on the Ministry website) only includes a part of the complete field findings and lab results.
· Nabiel Makarim's Report does not discuss the connections between the physical, chemical and biological conditions discovered in the 200 samples gathered.
· Nabiel Makarim's Report does not analyse the impact of physical and chemical parameters on the biodiversity of ocean life (on plankton and benthos).
· Nabiel Makarim's Report does not analyse or explain the impact of heavy metals especially Arsenic on the population of Buyat through consuming fish, drinking water and air. The calculation of exposure levels of metals in humans (Average Daily Intake) is the goal of these measurements as set out in Ministerial Decree No.97/2004.
· Nabiel Makarim's Report was issued without the participation of, nor the benefit of discussions by the Joint Team he established via the Ministerial Decree No.97/2004.

Process of issuing Nabiel Makarim's Report:
· On Sunday 17 October 2004, three days before his last day in office, Nabiel Makarim carried out a closed briefing with several exclusively-invited journalists at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, in which he handed them a report.
· The Environment Minister unilaterally released the report without knowledge of and consultation with members of the Technical Team and Steering Committee constituted under his own Ministerial Decree No. 97/2004.
· Environment Minister Nabiel Makarim distributed his report to national and international media, a day before the Joint Team was due to conduct a discussion on the lab analysis results and other field data on October 18, 2004.
· Nabiel Makarim's Report was not passed on to media in an official government process.
· Nabiel Makarim's Report was posted on the Env Dept website on 19 October without the knowledge of the Joint Team, and even without the knowledge of head of the team, Ms. Masnelyarti Hilman (an Environment Ministry Deputy).
· In accordance with the Ministerial Decree No.97/2004, the final results of the Technical Team will be released to the public by the Joint Team Steering Committee.

C. WHO Report by the Institute of Minamata Disease, Japan

· The report is entitled: “Mercury Pollution: Buyat & Totok Bay, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Final Report prepared by: Mineshi Sakamoto, PhD, Institute for Minamata Disease, Ministry of Environment Japan, for World Health Organization Indonesia, Date: 08 September 2004” (the "WHO Study").
· WHO Study cannot shed light on the environmental conditions in Buyat Bay because the environmental parameters measured were very limited in geographical range, heavy metals sampled and number of samples.
· In this WHO Study only mercury and cyanide in the environment were measured. Arsenic, which represents the primary pollutant in Buyat bay was not measured in sediment, water, fish, air or other food sources.
· The primary focus of the WHO Study was simply to evaluate whether people were suffering from Minamata Disease from being exposed to the organic compound Methyl Mercury, as this is the expertise of the Japanese Minamata Institute researchers.
· Therefore, the blitz of advertisements issued by Newmont Mining in the mass media which claim that "WHO study concludes there is no pollution at Buyat Bay", are totally misleading. The limited sampling of the WHO Study cannot be used as a basis to make conclusions about the environmental conditions, existence of pollution in Buyat Bay, and environmental impacts.

D. The Joint Team process has not concluded, because:

The Technical Team has not reported, in fact the Technical Team has only newly analysed the results on 18-19 October 2004. The report of the Technical Team is under preparation.
The Technical Team and the Field Investigation Team have not yet reported to the Joint Team steering committee.
The Joint Team has therefore not provided any official results yet.

Contact people:
P. Raja Siregar – WALHI, HP: +62 811 15 3349
Siti Maimunah – JATAM, HP: +62 811 920 462
Indro Sugianto – ICEL , HP : +62 815 9434 228

Note to editors: Translation of excerpt of article in Kompas Daily, Wed, 20 October 2004
Title: "Env Minister pre-empts Joint Team on Buyat":

Head of Technical Team on Buyat Case Masnellyarti Hilman issued a correction regarding the report. According to her, the report was made by an internal team formed by the Environment Minister, Nabiel Makarim.

"Those are (the results) of the internal team of Mr. Nabiel. However, the data analysis is not completed yet. There are data on environmental quality published in the report that are actually still being discussed by the Technical Team," explained Masnellyarti who is also the Deputy Assistant for the Environment Minister on Development of Technical Infrastructures for Environmental Management.

Environmental and Social Problems Caused by Newmont's Mining Operations Worldwide

2nd October 2004

Friends of the Earth International resolution on Newmont

In Peru, the Yanacocha operation of Newmont and Buenaventura has levelled five mountains. The people of Cajamarca fiercely opposed and successfully halted the proposed exploitation of Mount Quilish, their main source of drinking water. However the mining operations, which use large quantities of cyanide in fragile environments, have contaminated water resources leading to the disappearance of fish and frogs. Cattle have become sick, the air has been polluted and medicinal plants have been lost. On June 2000, a truck of from the Yanacocha mine spilled 151 kilograms of liquid mercury along a 40-kilometer stretch of highway passing through Chorapampa and two neighbouring villages. Suffering from the effects of the mercury spill continues today.

In Indonesia, Newmont Minahasa Raya gold mine in North Sulawesi has caused irreversible environmental degradation, pollution and health problems among local communities. Hundreds of fisherfolk have lost their livelihoods from pollution in the bay. Buyat communities have suffered from a range of mysterious health problems including skin diseases, tumours, tremors and headaches, Recently a 4-month baby died due to a serious illness suspected to have resulted from the pollution. Newmont Minahasa Raya will close its mine site this year, leaving behind many environmental and social problems for the community and the environment. The community is facing a health crisis, with several people ill with tumours, severe headaches, and birth defects, all symptoms similar to those of heavy metal contamination. There are no permanent health services available for the community.

These are two of many Newmont's mining concessions worldwide which cause environmental and social problems.

Concerned at the devastating impacts of large scale mining on the environments, lives and livelihoods of millions of indigenous peoples resulting from the actions of multinational corporations putting profits before people and planet.

In solidarity with the brave people of the Buyat Community and Cajamarca, in the face of mining practices which undermine their fundamental rights. The Biannual General Meeting of Friends of the Earth International, meeting in Stubicke Toplice, Croatia, on 2nd October 2004 resolves that:

1. Newmont must respect the will of people which ask to halt permissions for exploration and exploitation in their respective area worldwide;

2. The national governments must establish a dialogue process between all the affected people with government and the company to address all the social and environmental problems caused mining operation for present and future generations;

3. Newmont must compensate the people for their land and economic loss, their health problems and to conduct environmental rehabilitation in the their mining concessions;

4. Newmont must provide free health rehabilitation services for the communities around the Mine;

5. Governments should ban Submarine Tailing Disposal in any mining operation and halt the expansion of mining operations in protected forests and Indigenous peoples territories;

Mining staff in Indonesia pollution case leave jail

23 October 2004


By Jerry Norton and Karima Anjani

JAKARTA, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Five officials of a unit of U.S.-based gold miner Newmont Mining Corp <NEM.N accused of dumping toxic waste in Indonesia left jail on Saturday after being held since late September.

Newmont Minahasa Raya, a unit of the world's largest gold mining company Denver-headquartered Newmont, is under investigation over accusations its gold mine dumped toxic waste that poisoned local residents.

The case became a diplomatic issue after the officials -- an Australian, an American and three Indonesians -- were detained.

"The status of five detainees will be changed to city detention under the supervision of the North Sulawesi police," Brigadier General Suharto, director of the national police special crime unit, told Reuters on Saturday.

Their movements will be restricted to the areas they live in and they will have to report to police regularly, as prosecutors in North Sulawesi consider whether to charge them.

Suharto said the men would likely be flown from Jakarta to North Sulawesi on Sunday.

"Our colleagues displayed tremendous courage and patience during this detention," said Robert Gallagher, Newmont Mining Corp's vice president for Indonesian operations, a company statement said on Saturday.

The U.S. embassy has said jailing the men for questioning was inappropriate because they and the company were cooperating fully in the investigation. The move could harm Indonesia's investment climate, it said.

Newmont Minahasa Raya has said it followed all government regulations and has strongly denied accusations it dumped toxic waste into Buyat Bay in North Sulawesi, some 2,200 km (1,400 miles) from Jakarta, making villagers in the area sick.

Environmental groups argue otherwise, and a police study found dangerously high levels of pollution in the bay, the basis for the detention of Minahasa site manager U.S. citizen Bill Long, Australian production and maintenance manager Phil Turner and the three Indonesians.

Several government and independent studies found no evidence of serious pollution.

Charges of breaching environmental regulations carry jail terms of up to 15 years in Indonesia if people are proven to have died or become seriously ill as a result of pollution, police say.

Despite having some tough regulations on the books, Indonesia often comes under fire from environmental organisations as being too soft in practice on problems caused by mining and timber operations in the resource-rich country.

Miners complain it is getting harder to do business in Indonesia's outlying regions. Investment in mining has slumped because of vague regulations, competition from illegal mining and environmental rules.

Executives of US-based miner Newmont to be freed in Indonesia: lawyer

23rd October 2004

Agence France Presse

Jakarata(AFP) - Five executives of US-based mining firm Newmont who have been detained for a month as suspects in a pollution case will be released from custody, their lawyer said.

"It's hoped that in another hour they will be free. All that remains is the paperwork," Palmer Situmorang told Elshinta radio.

They would however be required to stay in Jakarta until the investigation is completed, he said.

The men -- three Indonesians, an Australian and an American -- are officials with Newmont Minahasa Raya, an Indonesian unit of Newmont Mining, the world's largest gold producer.

The decision to free them came after their lawyers met with Brigadier General Suharto, chief of specific crimes for the Indonesian national police, the lawyer said.

They have been detained since last month after accusations that Newmont had severely polluted Buyat Bay near its mine in North Sulwawesi province.

Residents of the area reported to police in August that the mine had caused problems including Minamata disease -- a neurological disorder named after a Japanese bay where there was an outbreak in the 1950s.

A human rights group dealing in health affairs has said 30 people died after suffering symptoms similar to those of Minamata disease since the mine began production in 1996.

Newmont denies there is pollution in the bay.

A company lawyer said Friday a new test by an Australian-based research organisation found a normal concentration of metals in Buyat Bay.

An earlier study by the World Health Organisation and Japan's Institute for Minamata Disease also vindicated Newmont, the company said.

Company president Richard Ness is also a suspect in the case but has not been detained because of poor health.

Prosecutors in North Sulawesi province said Friday police files implicating the six were deficient and had been handed back for completion.

The men face a maximum of six years in prison or a 500 million rupiah (55 thousand dollar) fine if found guilty.

The US embassy has criticised their detention as unnecessary because the company has been cooperating in the investigation. It has warned the detentions could scare badly needed investors from Indonesia.



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