MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Newmont under attack globally

Published by MAC on 2005-10-25


Newmont under attack globally

It's the world's biggest gold producer. With global opposition to gold mining (even the very concept) now at an unprecedented level, inevitably Newmont is attracting a great deal of criticism. More than its fair share? That's what the company would have us believe, claiming it always enjoys a "social licence" to operate. But communities in Peru, Indonesia and Ghana vehemently disagree.

Last month two New York Times journalists, and the TV programme Frontlineworld, examined in detail allegations of bribery and environmental destruction made against Newmont in Peru. The investigation revealed not only "moral ambiguities" on the part of Newmont but also disgraceful "arm twisting" by the French government and French companies - including Normandy, later taken over by Newmont. There were also highly dubious interventions by the US state department and the CIA on behalf of the US company. Yanacocha has become one of the most profitable mines on the planet - for the company that is, but not the majority of local people.

Also in October, Indonesia's leading mining advocacy organisation, JATAM, revealed the disturbing consequences of Newmont's appropriation of fresh water for its huge Batu Hijau mine. This report coincided with the tragic deaths of two young men at the company's Ahafo project in Ghana, whem they sunk into a dam constructed by Newmont on the Subri river.

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