MAC: Mines and Communities

Media reports absolving Newmont are incorrect: Oct 14th Env Minister Report on Newmont/Buyat is Part

Published by MAC on 2004-10-21

Media reports absolving Newmont are incorrect: Oct 14th Env Minister Report on Newmont/Buyat is Partial and Misleading

Joint Media Release - WALHI-FoE Indonesia, ICEL, JATAM, ELSAM, and TAPAL [3]

21 October 2004

Jakarta, (Indonesia), 21 October 2004 -- WALHI-FoE Indonesia, ICEL, JATAM, ELSAM, and TAPAL strongly criticise the action of Nabiel Makarim, in his final days as outgoing Indonesian Environment Minister for releasing a report based on partial selected results [1] regarding the severity of pollution of Buyat Bay by millions of tons of Newmont's mine waste (report dated 14 October 2004).

Conclusions based on results published in the now-ex-Minister's report were put together one-sidedly by the Minister while the official Environment Department-convened Joint Investigative Team on Buyat Bay was in the midst of a-two-day intensive analysis (18-19/10) of the lab results of 200 samples taken from Buyat Bay and surrounds. The official investigative team including senior Env Ministry staff which was working on the Ministry premises was not aware of the Minister's action of releasing his own one-sided conclusions in an unofficial briefing to selected media.

“The former Minister's immoral action has created an embarrassing scandal which tarnishes the post of Environment Minister. International media who were unaware of the background of the investigation have been mislead into publishing incorrect reports that the Oct 14 report is the official and final result of the work of the Joint Investigation Team on Buyat case,” said Siti Maimunah of Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM).

”As of today the team HAS NOT RELEASED the full test results nor a full and final report based on their field findings (see team's work timeline below [2]).The Minister's report dated Oct 14th is not sufficient basis for drawing accurate conclusions, and has lead to misleading media reports on pollution in Buyat Bay,” stated Raja Siregar of WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia who has been actively participating in the Joint Investigative Team.

Indonesian environmental groups, such as WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), have shown good faith with the environment department by participating within the Joint Investigative Team : and have been joined by other government bodies, academics, and experts. The NGO decision to participate was made in good faith in the interest of accurate public debate, despite the fact that the Environment Minister has shown dogged support for Newmont regardless of scientific concerns and community complaints over several years.

WALHI, ICEL, and JATAM deeply regret that the Environment Minister, Nabiel Makarim, has broken his own commitment to the official process by pre-emptively releasing partial and one-sided results.

We are forced to conclude that the Environment Minister has never had good intentions to resolve the Buyat Bay pollution case. The Minister has committed an unethical act and misled the public. From his track record throughout the Buyat case so far, the minister, Nabiel Makarim, has positioned himself as the number one supporter of PT Newmont Minahasa Raya. It is deeply regretable that he has chosen to ignore the suffering of the Buyat community and the destruction of their environment.

“We are calling on the Indonesian Police to remain uninfluenced by the former Environment Minister's report and all of Newmont's recent advertorials and to carry on with the ongoing legal process,” stated Kurniawan Adi Nugroho of the Advocacy Team for the Defense of Environmental Activists (TAPAL).

WALHI, ICEL, JATAM, TAPAL, and ELSAM are calling for firm and immediate action by anticorruption authorities to investigate the motives and the conflict of interest behind this scandal. [end]

FOR COMMENTS [4], contact :

P. Raja Siregar -- WALHI (+62 811 1533 49);
Siti Maimunah -- JATAM (+62 811 920 462)
Nur Hidayati -- WALHI (+62 21 7919 3363 or handphone +62 812 997 2642);


[1] See attached Explanation of developments in the joint investigative team on Buyat Bay

[2] Working Timeline of the Joint Investigative Team on the Buyat Case

Time and Activities:

28 August – 12 September
Technical Team takes field data

13 October
First meeting of the Technical Team at Salak Hotel, Bogor. In this meeting, the secretary of technical team conveyed the following demands of the Indonesian Environment Minister :
That the field data will not be made public due to pending analysis
All data from the study and laboratorium will be compiled together on October 15, 2004
On October 18, data will be distributed to members of the technical team for joint analysis
18 – 19 October
Meeting of technical team to analize field data, and draw conclusion and recommendations from field findings

20 October
Drafting of the result of the analysis of water quality biology and law enforcement study which will be carried out by Head of Technical Team/Environment Ministry. The draft will then be distributed to technical team members for clarification or correction.

21 October
Technical Team members submit their response and inputs to the draft (of the result of analysis of technical team)

22 October
The Ministry of Environment team compile the final report of the Joint Investigation Team, for official public release.

[3] WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), Advocacy Team for the Defense of Environmental Activists (TAPAL), and the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM)


Call Estee, WALHI’s International Outreach, at mobile: +62-(0)811-89-53-29
or the WALHI office +62-21-794 1672 / +62-21-791 93 363
or e-mail her at

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