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Indonesia claims pollution, sues Newmont subsidiary

Published by MAC on 2005-03-11

Indonesia claims pollution, sues Newmont subsidiary

March 11, 2005

The Denver Post

Jakarta, Indonesia - Indonesian authorities said Thursday they have sued a subsidiary of Denver-based Newmont Mining Corp., seeking $133.6 million in compensation from the company for allegedly polluting a bay off Sulawesi island.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by the Ministry of Environment in the South Jakarta District Court, where the offices of PT Newmont Minahasa Raya are located, said Bambang Widjojanto, a government attorney.

The lawsuit claims the company and its president director, Richard Ness, created pollution that damaged the environment and caused skin diseases in people living around Buyat Bay in northern Sulawesi province.

"It is clear that Newmont Minahasa Raya has dumped its waste and heavy metal into the air and waters around its operation site," Widjojanto said. "The state ministry of environment demands that the company and its director pay compensations of $117.6 million for material losses and $16 million for other damages."

Indonesia files Newmont suit

By Shawn Donnan, Financial Times

March 11, 2005

Indonesian authorities yesterday filed a US$134m civil lawsuit against Newmont, the world's largest gold miner, seeking compensation for allegedly polluting a bay in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Six Newmont executives were detained in Indonesia last year on charges they contributed to pollution around the Minahasa Raya mine. Villagers near the mine, where processing ended last August, also filed a $543m lawsuit against the company last year, alleging tailings it dumped into the ocean nearby were responsible for health problems.

Doubts about the evidence used against Newmont, which denies any wrongdoing, have surfaced since environmentalists last year accused the company of causing Minamata disease, or acute mercury poisoning, in villagers around the mine. That accusation was subsequently disproven by the World Health Organisation.

Since then, conflicting scientific findings about what, if any, pollution occurred and escalating legal problems for Newmont have turned the case into a high-profile test of Indonesia's treatment of foreign investors.

Indonesia's Supreme Court is considering whether to intervene in the criminal case and two major plaintiffs in the villagers' lawsuit having settled out of court, according to Newmont.

But Indonesian officials said yesterday that they had filed a civil lawsuit against the company in an effort to recoup $117.7m for lost income and environmental damage around the mine and a further $16.3m for damage to the country's reputation.

Isa Karmisa, deputy environment minister, said the government had "accurate data" that Newmont violated Indonesia's environmental laws and was "fairly sure" it could win. Any money collected would be used for environmental rehabilitation around the mine and to relocate villagers, he said.

Luhut Pangaribuan, a lawyer for Newmont, called the lawsuit "baseless" and a "blunder". The company, he said, was "confident" it could win. But it was also considering international arbitration because Indonesia was violating its contract with Newmont by suing.

Indonesia demanda a una subsidiaria de Newmont por contaminación

Diario Denver Post

11 de marzo de 2005

Jakarta, Indonesia - Las autoridades indonesias informaron el pasado jueves que han demandado a una subsidiaria de la compañía con sede en Denver (USA) Newmont Mining Corp., buscando una compensación de 133.6 millones de dólares por la supuesta contaminación de la bahía de la isla Sulawesi.

La demanda fue presentada el pasado miércoles por el ministro de Medioambiente en la Corte del distrito Sur de Jakarta, sede de las oficinas de la empresa Newmont Minahasa Raya, dijo Bambang Widjojanto, un abogado del gobierno.

La demanda sostiene que la compañía y su presidente, Richard Ness, generaron una contaminación que afectó el medioambiente y causó enfermedades en la piel de los pobladores cercanos a Bahía Buyat, en la provincia de Sulawesi.

"Está claro que Newmont Minahasa Raya ha vertido sus residuos y metales pesados en el aire y el agua cercanos a su zona de operaciones" dijo Widjojanto. "El ministerio estatal de Medioambiente demanda a la compañía y a su director el pago de una compensación de 117.6 millones de dólares por pérdidas materiales, y 16 millones de dólares más por otros daños."

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