MAC: Mines and Communities

Activists Set To Protest Newmont's Practices

Published by MAC on 2006-04-25

Activists set to protest Newmont's practices

http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3747997

25th April 2006

Investors at the mining company's annual meeting today will also see demonstrators who say the firm hurts people and the environment.

By Tom McGhee, Denver Post Staff Writer

Newmont's mining practices threaten the lands and lives of native people in areas where mines are located, activists preparing to protest at Newmont's annual meeting said Monday.

Organizers plan anti-Newmont demonstrations outside the meeting today at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center south of Denver near Interstate 25 and County Line Road as well as downtown.

Newmont spokeswoman Heatheryn Higgins denied the accusations and said the company is committed to responsible environmental management at its mines.

"Our mines are often some of the first industrialization in the countries where we operate," Higgins said in an e-mail. "This carries huge responsibilities and makes ... Newmont a target."

Newmont, the world's No. 2 gold producer, has encountered opposition to its mines in countries such as Peru, Indonesia and Ghana, and here in the U.S. from the Western Shoshone tribe in Nevada.

"We are not against mining, we are against irresponsible mining," said Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, head of Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining, a Ghanaian organization.

The company's mines contaminate water, destroy land, threaten ecosystems and force native people off their land, the activists said.

A new group, the Stop Newmont Mining Coalition, held a conference Monday that included a panel of scientists discussing the environmental impact of gold mining.

Last week, Newmont received an e-mail invitation to participate in the panel discussion on the Metro State/University of Colorado at Denver campus, said Higgins.

No one from Newmont attended because the company's employees have been too busy preparing its earnings report, delivered last week, and arranging the annual meeting, she said.

Newmont's open-pit mining relies on cyanide and other harmful chemicals to extract gold, said Robert E. Moran, a partner in Michael-Moran Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Golden.

Moran said he has worked for both nongovernmental organizations and mining companies, and isn't opposed to mining.

But mining always has an effect on the nearby land and water, said Moran, a hydrologist and geochemist.

"These are huge operations, sometimes the pits are a mile or two miles across. I have never seen a mine that didn't have a major impact."

Higgins said Newmont is committed to responsible environmental management at every stage of the mine life cycle, from exploration and operation through closure and reclamation.

Staff writer Tom McGhee can be reached at 303-820-1671 or tmcghee@denverpost.com.

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