MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Elang Dodo Exploration: Proof of Newmont's Destructive Power of Expansion

Published by MAC on 2006-03-19

Elang Dodo Exploration: Proof of Newmont's Destructive Power of Expansion

A press release by Mining Advocacy Network, Indonesian Forum for Environment, and Life Management Institute.

Press Release Jatam -- Walhi -- Loh

19th March 2006

Jakarta, Sumbawa. Hundreds of people in Ropang village, Ropang District, Sumbawa Regency, are putting a blockade in an exploration site owned by Newmont Nusa Tenggara Ltd. which is located in the area of Elang Dodo protected forest. People are demanding that Newmont stop its exploration and cancel its mining plan in Elang Dodo area. They do not want their productive areas to be destroyed and their livelihood to be endangered by mining activities.

Villagers in Ropang and its surrounding areas have several times put up blockades and taken Newmont's machines, vehicles, and even employees, as hostages. The villagers are upset as Newmont has never shown goodwill to sit together and negotiate on land conflicts and other problems that have emerged since exploration began. Newmont didn't even attend a hearing session facilitated by the Regional Parliament of Sumbawa Regency in early March of 2006.

Since Newmont started its exploration two years ago in the Elang Dodo protected forest area, villagers in Ropang and other surrounding areas lost access to sources of income from forest products such as honey, palm sugar, and spices. They were prohibited from entering their own ancestors' forest by the company's security forces claiming it as Newmont's concession area.

Apart from that, since Newmont's exploration began, people have been complaining about the shrinking amount of their agricultural crops. Some plantations of rice, pumpkin, and cucumber are no longer productive. Therefore, people stated that they will not allow any mining activities in Dodo and Rinti areas because they are worried that the destruction will get worse just like in the case of the Batu Hijau mining area. Newmont's exploration area includes Dodo (5,100 ha) and Rinti (7,539 ha) protected forests.

Responding to the people's blockade, Yani Sagaroa, director of Life Management Institute (LOH) in Sumbawa stated, "LOH has been for long time rejecting the attempts of the government and Newmont Ltd. to open a mining site in Elang Dodo protected forest. The government should have firmly refused the unfair mining concession in Elang Dodo area. Newmont must immediately stop all activities in Elang Dodo, fully rehabilitate the impacts of its exploration, and return the products of its exploration, such as gold, silver, and copper, to the local people and the regional government of Sumbawa."

"It is people's basic right to prevent their productive areas from being destroyed by mining. JATAM supports the efforts of Ropang villagers to resist Newmont's mining in Dodo Rinti protected forests. Security officials should guard the peaceful action and should not respond with any repressive and exaggerated actions against the people's protest," commented Siti Maimunah, national coordinator of the Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM).

"If Newmont is finally able to operate its mining activities in Dodo Rinti, it's guaranteed that the area's destruction will be aggravated and expanded to Ropang and other surrounding villages. People of the Batu Hijau mining circle have previously felt Newmont's destructive power since it started operating in 2000," said Torry Kuswardono, mining and energy campaigner of Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI).

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