MAC: Mines and Communities

Urgent Action - Support the victims of Newmontís Gold Mining and Submarine Tailings Disposal

Published by MAC on 2004-04-15

Urgent Action - Support the victims of Newmont’s Gold Mining and Submarine Tailings Disposal

JATAM - April 2004

Only three months remain until the closure of the Newmont Minahasa Raya gold mining operations in North Sulawesi, an operation that has left local communities facing a poverty and health crisis. Help the people of Sulawesi hold Newmont Minahasa Raya accountable for the seven years of rights violations and environmental destruction.

TAKE ACTION by sending the following letter to key decision-makers to protest the dangers of Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD), a method of dumping toxic mine waste into the ocean, banned in many countries because of the environmental impacts. http://www.jatam.org/english/case/nm/

STD devastated the community around the Newmont operation, and will be applied again by Newcrest Mining Ltd in North Halmahera and North Sulawesi, and by BHP Billiton in Gag Island, a site that UNESCO has shortlisted as a World Heritage Site for its biodiversity riches.

Submarine Tailings Disposal destroys the environment and coastal communities, and must be banned.

Background - Newmont Minahasa Raya, North Sulawesi

In 1996, production of NMR’s gold mines commenced with great promises of community prosperity and economic growth but instead caused severe environmental devstation and numerous human right violations. At no point did NMR or the government of North Sulawesi consult with the communities or involve them in decision-making. This violates the principle of prior, informed consent, which dictates participation from the community in resource projects.

NMR’s profits since 1999 have been $1.3 million per day. By contrast, the communities of Buyat Bay and Ratatotok have been left impoverished by unfair compensation for their land (Rp 250/m2 or $0.02) and a collapsed fishery caused by pollution.

NMR applied Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD), a method of dumping toxic mine waste into the ocean. The company installed a pipeline for waste disposal 9km from the mine site to the bay, at a depth of 82 metres, and disposed 2000 tons of mine waste every day.

The communities are now facing a health crisis, a direct result of STD. NMR used a cyanide-leaching process, which resulted in the contamination of water sources with various toxic materials, including mercury and arsenic. Buyat villagers suffer from a variety of health problems including tumours, on their entire body, severe headaches and birth defects.

On March 30, the communities in North Sulawesi staged a demonstration and submitted a statement to PT NMR and the provincial government of North Sulawesi demanding:
· compensation to the people of Ratatotok for their land.
· environmental rehabilitation in the villages of Ratatotok and Buyat Bay.
· economic compensation for the loss of livelihoods suffered by the communities of Ratatotok and Buyat Bay.
· health services for the communities around Buyat Bay for the next 30 years.


How You Can Help - Email or fax this sample letter to the various recipients listed. JATAM will also distribute your letter to several levels of local government throughout Indonesia.

To Whom it May Concern:

I am writing to express support for the villages of Buyat Bay and Ratatotok in North Sulawesi, Indonesia and call on the government of Indonesia to force Newmont Minahasa Raya to conduct mine closure in a manner that meets international standards.

Newmont Minahasa Raya will close its mine site this year, leaving behind many environmental and social problems for the community. Recently, the community expressed their demands to NMR and the provincial government of North Sulawesi to compensate them for the loss of their land and livelihoods, to ensure that environmental rehabilitation be conducted for the area surrounding the mining location, and health services be provided for the communities.

For the seven years of operation, Newmont Minahasa Raya employed the controversial Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD), a method of waste disposal that is banned in many countries for the negative impacts to the environment. This STD operation dumped 2000 tons of mining wastes daily into Buyat Bay, destroying the marine environment , and causing the collapse of the local fishery, the only source of livelihood for the community. This violates the community’s right to a sustainable livelihood.

The community is also facing a health crisis, with several people ill with tumours, severe headaches, and birth defects, all symptoms of heavy metal contamination. There are no health services for the community.

The violation of rights by Newmont Minahasa Raya of the community sets a dangerous precedent for other communities and provides a tragic example of the use of harmful technology and its human impacts. At no point in the process were the communities of Buyat Bay or Ratatotok involved in decision making, nor were they consulted on the price they were offered for their land, a shocking 250 Rp or $0.02/m2, nor were they informed of the health risks they were to face with the mine operations.

Therefore, I write this letter to:

1. Demand Newmont Minahasa Raya be held accountable to the communities afflicted by providing health services and fair compensation for lost land and livelihoods

2. Call on the government of Indonesia to enforce legitimate mechanisms to force PT NMR to conduct mine closure that meets international standards

3. Demand the Indonesian government prohibit the use of Submarine Tailings Disposal in Papua, North Halmahera and North Sulawesi.

4. Call for the international ban on the use of Submarine Tailings Disposal, a practise that devastates the environment and coastal communities


Sincerely,

President of Republic of Indonesia, Megawati Soekarnoputri
Fax: (+62 21) 345 7782
E-mail: presiden@ri.go.id
(don’t add what seems to be a missing ‘t’!)

Members of the Deep Sea Tailings Placement Steering Committee
ACMER (Australian Center for Mining Environmental Research):
Dr. Clive Bell e-mail: c.bell@mailbox.uq.edu.su
Keith Eigeland e-mail: acmer.project@uq.edu.au
Dr. Harvey D. van Veldhuizen, Hvanveldhuizen@worldbank.org

The World Bank Group
Attn: JamesD. Wolfensohn, President
fax: (202) 477-6391
email: jwolfensohn@worldbank.org


Newmont Mining Corporation
Attn: Wayne Murdy
President
1700 Lincoln Street
Denver, Colorado
USA 80203
Telephone: (303) 863-7414
Fax: (303) 837-5837

Embassy of the United States of America, Jakarta, Indonesia
Attn: Mr. Ralph Boyce
Ambassador to Indonesia
Fax: (+62 21) 385-7189
info@usembassyjakarta.org

Embassy of Canada, Jakarta, Indonesia
Attn: Mr. Randolph B. Mank
Ambassador to Indonesia
Fax: (+62 21) 2550-7811
Email: canadianembassy.jkrta@dfait-maec.gc.ca

Embassy of Australia, Jakarta, Indonesia
Attn: Mr. David Ritchie
Ambassador to Indonesia
Fax: (+62 21) 522 7101
E-mail: public-affairs-jakt@dfat.gov.au

Embassy of Great Britain, Jakarta, Indonesia
Attn: Mr. Charles Humfrey CMG
Ambassador to Indonesia
(62) (21) 392 6263 ( Political )
E-mail: britemb@attglobal.net


More on our No Mining in Protected Forest Areas campaign here!
http://www.jatam.org/english/case/conservation/

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