Indoneisan Mine Pollution Ruling: Setback for Environmental JusticePublished by MAC on 2007-04-24
Indoneisan Mine Pollution Ruling: Setback for Environmental Justice
MEDIA ADVISORY, Friends of the Earth International
24th April 2007
JAKARTA (INDONESIA) 24 April 2007 -- Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest grassroots environmental network, is extremely disappointed by today's verdict on a mining pollution case in North Sulawesi in Indonesia which shamefully ignored compelling evidence.
The Manado District Court unexpectedly ruled that US mining giant Newmont was not guilty of polluting 'Buyat Bay', in a major setback for the environment, the local community and the rule of law in Indonesia.
According to Friends of the Earth International, the judgment delivered today in Manado shamefully ignored compelling evidence presented by the government-convened Joint Investigative Team which condemned the company's operations in 2004, finding that mine waste had caused extensive environmental damage.
Newmont used the destructive practice of ocean disposal of mine waste known as 'submarine tailings disposal' in Buyat Bay. In Newmont's home country, the United States, this destructive practice is effectively banned under the Clean Water Act.
Meena Raman, the Friends of the Earth International chair, said: "This judgment is unfortunate, as the Indonesian justice system has missed an opportunity to make US mining giant Newmont accountable for its crimes against the environment and the local Buyat Bay community. Newmont is notorious for environmental malpractice at many of its operations around the world."
Members of the Friends of the Earth International network from the Asia Pacific region, who are gathered in Ciawi near Jakarta to discuss the threat of climate change, took time to comment on the judgment.
Meena Raman, the Friends of the Earth International chair, said: "Why should local communities bear the brunt of environmental pollution and loss of livelihoods while a multinational mining company walks away with the proceeds of the public's natural resources? Friends of the Earth International stands in solidarity with WALHI [Friends of the Earth Indonesia] and will not rest until polluters are made to pay."
Buyat Bay Background information:
Due to failures in managing its gold ore roasting and mine waste detoxification, Newmont discharged around 33 tons of mercury over a four-year period, 16 of which were dumped into the ocean and 17 of which were released directly into the atmosphere.
The mine waste Newmont dumped into Buyat Bay also contained heavy metals, which contaminated the seabed with arsenic at concentrations ten to twenty times higher than the US, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian guidelines for marine sediment.
Local communities have been struggling against Newmont's Minahasa Raya gold mine for a decade, since Newmont began depositing 2000 tons of tailings per day onto the sea floor of Buyat Bay in 1996. At several points during the period between 1996 to 1999, thousands of fish were observed floating dead in the vicinity of the tailings disposal pipe.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Friends of the Earth International chair Meena Raman. Tel: +60-124300042
Randurini, Media Relation & Communication, Friends of the Earth
Indonesia (WALHI). Tel:. +62 21 7919 3363-68 Mobile: +62 813 854 55229
Farah Sofa, Corporate Accountability Campaigner, Friends of the Earth
Indonesia (WALHI). Mobile: +62 811 194773
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 The Top Ten Key Findings of 2004 Technical Team Buyat Bay report are online here: http://www.walhi.or.id/eng/buyat_team_summary