MAC: Mines and Communities

PT Newmont Minahasa Raya Condemned For Destroying Buyat Bay Waters

Published by MAC on 2004-04-26

PT Newmont Minahasa Raya Condemned For Destroying Buyat Bay Waters

Press Release - JATAM

26 April 2004

Jakarta - Thirty days after receiving a letter from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Jakarta, PT Newmont Minahasa Raya (NMR) has not responded to the concerns outlined of environmental degradation of Buyat Bay thus spurning condemnation from several NGOs on Monday, April 26th in Jakarta.

PT NMR was condemned for not rehabilitating the degraded environment caused by their mining operations by Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), JATAM (Mining Advocacy Network), ELSAM (Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy), TAPAL (Environmentalist Defence Team) and Kontras (an Indonesian human rights organization).

"Up until now the community living in the vicinity of the PT NMR gold mining operations as well as several environmental NGOs in Indonesia have demanded that PT NMR stop their activities that is destroying the quality of the environment, especially the quality of the Buyat Bay waters," explained Raja Siregar from Walhi.

Raja added that because in June 2004 PT NMR will close their operations, they are demanding that the company immediately conduct environmental rehabilitation, especially in the Buyat Bay waters of Bolaang Mongondow District and surrounding areas and respond to other issues related to the losses suffered by the Ratatotok Village, Belang Regency, Minahasa District and Buyat coastal community, Bolaang Mongondow District, North Sulawesi province.

According to JATAM data, each day PT NMR is dumping 2000 cubic metres per day into the Buyat Bay waters. The tailings disposal has resulted in fish kills (including goropa, tato, kuli paser, and nener fish) and heavy metal contamination of the Buyat Bay waters. The heavy metal contamination includes mercury, arsenic, lead and antimony. The fish kills and heavy metal contamination has been found in a 100-150 metre radius from the end of the PT NMR tailings pipe.

Based on Walhi research results in 2000, there has been a sharp change in the natural landscape of Buyat Bay as a result of the tailings disposal, especially at a depth of 80-90 metres or at the end of the tailings pipe. In 1997, the end of the tailings pipe is at a depth of 82 metres (according to PT NMR's environmental impact assessment (AMDAL)) but has since changed to depths between 60-70 metres. The dumping of 2000 cubic metres per day from 1997 to 2000 has caused a shallowness of the bay of 10-12 metres at the end of the tailings pipe. PT NMR's tailings has spread throughout most of the waters, starting at a depth of 13 metres, and has covered sea grass and coral reef areas. There are grave concerns that heavy metal contamination including arsenic and mercury have accumulated in the people of Buyat Bay village.

TAPAL coordinator Kurniawan Adi Nugroho criticized the Denver,Colorado, US-based company because they have closed their eyes to various impacts suffered by the Buyat Bay-Ratatotok communities, mainly the impacts caused by the company's submarine tailings disposal operations.

"Both these communities now are in an alarming state. Environmental contamination by tailings waste disposed by PT NMR is not only killing the livelihoods of most fisher peoples but is also causing health conditions like confusion, skin diseases, cramps, and trembling," stated Kurniawan.

Although the mine closure date is quickly approaching, within a few months, PT NMR has not socialized the mine closure program plans to the community. If the community requests information about this matter, the company states that they do not have enough money to duplicate the information. The inability of the company to do this was expressed at a dialogue between the Buyat and Ratatotok communities and PT NMR facilitated by the North Sulawesi provincial government in March 2004.

"This is very shameful. The company has made profits of hundreds of billion Rupiah from the exploitation in the area but cannot aford to photocopy the mine closure documents? It is therefore difficult to believe that this company will fulfill its obligations associated with environmental, social and economic rehabilitation based on their track record so far," stated Amiruddin al Rahab from ELSAM.

Newmont should not leave a nightmare

Miningindo News, May 04, 2004

Next year PT Newmont Minahasa Raya (NMR), a gold miner in Minahasa of North Sulawesi, will close its mining operation. In that regard the company is called on to accommodate the aspirations of local people, who live around the mine, prior to the closure of the company's mine site.

Deputy to head of mining division of North Sulawesi Victor Malonda as quoted from Bisnis Indonesia daily said, he believed that with its international reputation Newmont would never leave a nightmare to local people around the mine.

"The company's management has submitted a proposal on mine closure to Indonesian ministry of energy and mineral resources and the ministry has approved it. But the company remains obliged to monitor the environmental condition in the ex-mine site following the closure of the mine, particularly in the area of tailings," he said.

The company's management has actually consulted with all stakeholders from local up to national levels concerning the plan on mine closure. The company has held meetings with various stakeholders from one level to another since March 2001 and significant inputs have been garnered and included in the plan on mine closure.

NMR is in the process of conducting mine closure activity due to depletion of the mineable economic gold deposit within its contract area. The physical closure is expected to be completed in 2004, while the post-closure activities, which include managing and monitoring environmental impact, are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2006.

The mine closure program's goal is to mitigate, where possible, impacts on the environment and maximize long-term viability of the local economy. The process of planning for the mine's closure has been underway since the mine was started. There is a great deal of work that still must be done in order to achieve an effective and responsible mine closure. A concerted effort from various stakeholders is needed in order to achieve a successful closure. The company's main task is to gradually implement the various closure programs and to conduct those programs in consultation with the Government of Indonesia.

Mine Closure Process includes consulting stakeholders, planning, implementing and monitoring.

Mine Closure Activity will affect closure of mine areas, fixed asset disposal, environmental compliance and achievement of established closure success criteria, the local community (transition to sustainable development programs) and employees (gradual redundancy program).

According to the Contract of Work, NMR is required to submit a Mine Closure Plan in fourth quarter of 2002. This company submitted the Proposed Closure Plan to the Government of Indonesia in March 2002, ahead of schedule. After various consultations with related parties, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia approved the proposal on 31 December, 2002 in a formal letter numbered 4274/87.03/DJG/2002. The approved mine closure plan contains closure planning programs for all technical, environmental and social/economic aspects in accordance with the standards and criteria of Indonesia and Newmont Mining Corporation.

Responsibility to Work with Local Communities Stakeholders' consultation is an important process in mine closure to understand the concerns of various stakeholders. Consultative meetings with stakeholder groups at all levels (village/local, regency, provincial, national) have been held since March 2001 and have resulted in valuable input to the mine closure plan. NMR believes that consultation with stakeholders is very important and the process is an ongoing and evolving and will continue until all of the closure programs are completed


May-June 2004


Newmont Mining Corporation claims to be an industry leader in setting tandards for social and environmental responsibility. But what do communities that are on the receiving end of Newmont's policies have to say? This month, communities in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, are desperately trying to bring the world's attention to a big mess that Newmont created at its Minahasa Raya mine. In the next few weeks, before Newmont closes Minahasa Raya, please urge the company and the Indonesian government to meet the communities' demands for a complete clean-up, adequate compensation and health care.

A model letter follows the action alert.

"Newmont believes that promoting and maintaining high standards of environmental management, particularly in the conservation of natural resources and the prevention of harmful emissions to land, air and water, is an integral part of its business."

Now & Beyond (Newmont's Social and Environmental Report 2002)

"You're all liars. You said that the sea is not polluted, but why are the fishes dead and why is the coast that used to be beautiful now full of mud? Why is it recently we find difficulties to catch fishes? Our children s skin itches. It is true that you all love to turn the facts upside down. "

Anton, Buyat Bay, North Sulawesi,

Indonesia, addressing Newmont Minahasa Raya mining company

In June 2004, the Newmont Minahasa Raya (NMR) gold mine in Indonesia will shut down. Colorado-based Newmont is the world s most profitable gold mining company. Newmont touts its policies for social and environmental responsibility, but when it closes its mine in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, it will leave local communities impoverished, sick and angry. The people of Buyat Bay and Ratatokok face long-lasting environmental damage on land and sea, economic decline, and a host of health problems believed to be related to the mining operation. An international outcry is needed to stop Newmont from walking away from the mess it made in these communities where agriculture and fishing thrived until the company arrived.

After seven years of mining, the scars on the landscape are visible six open pits where Newmont extracted 4.78 million tons of ore. But the greatest damage is invisible. Beginning in 1996, the NMR gold mine dumped more than 4 million tons of highly toxic mine wastes into Buyat Bay a staggering 2000 tons a day. Ocean dumping, also known as Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD), is cheap and convenient for mining companies, but it is banned in many developed countries because of harmful environmental and health impacts. Laden with heavy metals and other toxins, mine tailings are a grave ecological concern in coastal waters because these are the richest and most fragile regions of the oceans. Many open-ocean species also depend on coastal habitat during critical parts of their life cycles.

Newmont piped its tailings 5 miles from the shore into Buyat Bay and dumped them at a depth of 82 meters dangerously shallow compared to most STD operations. The toxic tailings didn t just stay put. Upwelling currents scattered them, and breaking pipes caused spills that affected shallower waters, coral reefs and sea grasses. Additional contaminants and sedimentation flowed into the sea from rivers carrying waste from

Newmont's mine

A 2003 report by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) found that Newmont's tailings contain four times the government-allowed level of cyanide and high levels of mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.

Toxicologists from Sam Ratulangi University in North Sulawesi had found similar results in 1999 and recommended that the tailings disposal sstem be redesigned. Newmont ignored their recommendations and disputes such studies. But disastrous impacts of the Minahasa Raya mine are obvious.

Residents of Buyat Bay suffer symptoms consistent with mercury and arsenic poisoning, including skin rashes, body sores, severe headaches, tumors, and reproductive health problems. Poisoning of the marine environment has caused fish kills and tumors in fish, leading to a collapse of the local fishery, the major source of food and income for the people of Buyat Bay. Farming families in Ratatokok also lost their livelihoods when Newmont paid them less than one US cent per square meter for their land.

Background Information


Growing awareness of the risks of marine tailings disposal has led the United States and Canada to effectively ban the practice. In December 2003, the World Bank s Extractive Industries Review (EIR) panel recommended that the Bank apply the precautionary principle and not finance mines that dump their tailings at sea unless and until independent research demonstrates the safety of STD. Here are some specifics from the EIR report:

"The review panel recommends that, irrespective of the final outcome of the research, STD & [should] not be used in areas such as coral reefs & or in coastal waters used by indigenous peoples and local communities for subsistence. STD should be avoided especially in island regions where this method of disposal may not assure people's sustainable livelihoods&. STD presents an inherent economic risk to local and export fisheries because of real or perceived contamination of marine resources. It may affect large and often endangered marine life, including whales, dolphins and marine turtles, and it may raise the risks to human health through direct or indirect exposure to mining wastes.

In June, the World Bank will release its response to the Extractive Industries Review panel's recommendations. The full report can be seen at


Just weeks remain before Newmont leaves North Sulawesi. Support the communities of Buyat Bay and Ratatotok who demand that Newmont and the Indonesian government clean up the environmental damage left behind by the Newmont Minahasa Raya mine and provide them with health care and compensation for economic losses.

Please send polite letters to Newmont Mining Company and Indonesia's Minister of the Environment. If possible, send a copy of your letter to the president of the World Bank, who will soon decide whether the Bank will finance mining projects that use Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD).

Write your own letter or personalize the model letter below.


*** Personalized letter sent by regular mail

** Personalized fax

* Personalized email


Wayne W. Murdy, CEO
Newmont Mining Corporation
1700 Lincoln Street
Denver, Colorado
USA 80203

Fax: Int l code+303 837-6100

Mr. Nabiel Makarim,
Minister Ministry of Environment
Jl. Mampang Prapatan II
No. 30 Mampang
Jakarta Selatan 12790 Indonesia

Fax: + 62 021-79181683 and +62 021 79181683

Mr. James D. Wolfensohn
President of the World Bank
1818 H. St. NW
Washington DC 20433 USA

Fax: +202 522-3031


Wayne W. Murdy, CEO
Newmont Mining Corporation, and
Mr. Nabiel Makarim,
Minister Ministry of Environment

Cc: James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group

Dear Mr. Murdy and Mr. Makarim:

I am writing in support of the communities of Buyat Bay and Ratatotok in North Sulawesi, where the Newmont Minahasa Raya (NMR) gold mine will soon close down, leaving behind long-lasting environmental, economic and health problems.

I ask both Newmont and the Indonesian government to guarantee that Newmont will fully apply its Social Responsibility Policy during the NMR mine closing process, including its pledges to respect the social, economic and cultural rights of indigenous people, set operating standards that exceed the requirements of the local law and consult stakeholders in matters that affect them. These policies require that Newmont meet the communities demands for:

(1) Mine closure, clean-up and reclamation that meet United States standards;

(2) free health services for the people of Buyat Bay and Ratatotok; and

(3) fair compensation for lost land and livelihoods.

As you know, the World Bank s Extractive Industry Review panel has recommended that mining companies should cease the practice of Submarine Tailings Disposal unless and until independent research proves it safe.

Under no circumstances, the EIR panel wrote, should STD be used where tailings might affect coral reefs and the health and economies of indigenous populations. For these reasons, I urge the Indonesian government to prohibit the use of Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD) currently proposed by mining companies in Papua, North Halmahera and

North Sulawesi,. I also urge Newmont to take leadership within the mining industry by stopping the use of STD unless and until independent research proves it safe.

Thank you for your immediate attention to the urgent needs of the communities affected by the Newmont Minahasa Raya mine.




This GLOBAL RESPONSE ACTION was issued at the request of and with information provided by the Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network, JATAM and Earthworks . Special thanks to the Project AWARE Foundation for their support.

There is also an action alert on JATAM's website at


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