MAC: Mines and Communities

Ny City Comptroller Wants Freeport Environmental Study

Published by MAC on 2006-12-06
Source: Reuters ()

NY City Comptroller Wants Freeport Environmental Study

PlanetArk US

6th December 2006

NEW YORK - New York City Comptroller William Thompson, who oversees the city's pension funds, on Tuesday called for a review of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.'s environmental policies and practices in Indonesia.

New Orleans-based Freeport-McMoRan, one of the world's largest gold and copper producers, derives most of its income from its Grasberg mine on Indonesia's West Papua island, the world's largest copper and gold mine by reserves.

The comptroller cited reports that Freeport-McMoRan dumps nearly 230,000 tons of waste a day, including toxic metals, into Indonesia's river system.

Meanwhile Indonesia's Minister of the Environment in March accused the miner of violating water quality regulations.

In March this year a landslide near the Grasberg mine killed three people and injured dozens more.

"Freeport McMoRan's poor environmental record needs to be examined," Thompson said in a statement. "The least the company can do is ensure that it is not causing environmental damage to the rivers and in any way harming the people of Indonesia."

City pension funds for teachers, police, firefighters and other public employees, which combined hold 544,458 Freeport shares worth about US$33.6 million, want shareholders at next year's annual meeting to push Freeport to review its environmental practices in Indonesia. Thompson called for a report to shareholders from that study by next September.

A Freeport official declined immediate comment.

Thompson earlier this year asked the US Justice Department to investigate if Freeport payments to Indonesian military forces violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Thompson also asked the US Securities and Exchange Commission to review Freeport's 2004 and 2005 proxies to determine whether it made misleading statements about those payments.

Last month Freeport agreed to acquire the much larger Phelps Dodge Corp., a major copper producer, for US$25.9 billion.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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