MAC: Mines and Communities

The Long Awaited Meeting Came Out With Another Wait.

Published by MAC on 2004-09-24

The Long Awaited Meeting Came Out With Another Wait.

Mining giant Newmont hears local villagers' testimony

Press Release - JATAM, Jakarta,

24 September, 2004

"You cannot just go home to your country and leave everything behind and take no action." Buyat Bay women testifying, 21 September 2004.

After continued national and international public pressure, international mining giant, Newmont Mining Corporation (US), finally met face-to-face with community members of the small Indonesian coastal villages of Buyat and Ratatotok . On Tuesday, September 21, Newmont Mining Corporation executive Dr. Chris Anderson, head of external relationship and social responsibility, attended the long-awaited community meeting organized by a consortium of NGOs- local (Kelola), national (WALHI and JATAM) and international (Earthworks Action and Global Response) in support of the Buyat and Ratatotok communities. Ninety local community members, eager to finally be heard, attended this meeting held in Tomohon, Minahasa, on North Sulawesi. The meeting was delayed for nearly 4 hours until police permission could be obtained.

Testimony was given by 15 community members regarding their chronic health problems, dire economic situation from loss of livelihood as fishermen, and allegations of illegal land seizure, all arising since the start of PTNMR's (Newmont Minahasa Raya mine) operation.

As a result of the multitude of problems facing them, Buyat and Ratatotok community members presented a list of demands to Newmont including environmental rehabilitation of the land and heavy metal clean-up along Buyat River and Buyat Bay, treatment for current health problems with long-term health coverage, compensation for the loss of land, assistance with economic recovery, evacuation and relocation of Buyat Bay community, and, most urgently, assistance with meeting basic needs such as food and potable water.

Dr. Chris Anderson agreed to present and discuss the meeting details, including the community demands, with Newmont CEO, Mr. Wayne Murdy. He stated that he would then return to North Sulawesi with Newmont's (US) response and action plan. Also, Dr. Anderson agreed that Newmont would finance a public health evaluation to diagnose the unsolved health problems experienced by the residents of Buyat and Ratatotok in order to treat them appropriately.

The NGOs along with Buyat and Ratatotok attendees, however, underlined that this has not been a progress unless Newmont will take serious steps towards comprehensive resolution of all their appeals that have long been alleged as fake testimonies. The Public must still wait[tohear] whether the multinational gold company will comply with demands on responsibility since Chris must still consult his colleagues in Newmont (Denver). As the uncertainty remains after the Monday meeting then Buyat people will still wait until Chris meets his promise to again come to Minahasa. As stated by one of the women testifying, "You cannot just go home to your country and leave everything behind and not take action."

Media Contact : Aminuddin Kirom (JATAM), hp 08159290370

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