MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Government Must Review Newmont’s STD Permit - From the Incident of Pipeline Leakage

Published by MAC on 2005-09-26

Government Must Review Newmont’s STD Permit - From the Incident of Pipeline Leakage

Press Release - Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM)

26 September 2005

Jakarta. On September 11 2005 the submarine tailings disposal pipeline operated PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara, a local subsidiary of Newmont Mining Corporation, was leaked at a depth of 75 meters below sea water of Senunu bay in Sumbawa island. As the aftermath of the incident, thousands tones of tailing mud poured into the waters and polluted local environment. The pollution has been indicated by the decrease in local fishingfolks’ catch.

The incident was just recognized by PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara on 10.00 am before it shut down the factory operation 110 minutes then. As the result, more 9 tones of tailing containing hazardous waste spilled the waters. It is ironic that both the government and PT NNT do not disclose the incident to the local society around the bay as well as its risk to them.

In the short history of mining operation by PT NNT pipe leakages have been a frequent incident took place on its waste disposal system. The previous incidents of pipeline broke down were took place in October and November 2000, followed then by January 2001 leakage. From those three incidents the company should have predicted the leakage potential so that it should have prepare a mitigation measures. However, letting the leakage to happen over 110 minutes just simply indicated the company’s carelessly attitude.

This incident serves as a proof that STD isn’t a safe waste disposal system. However, up to now Newmont is still allowed by the government to employ such system although it once, via minister of environment, has declared that Buyat bay in the northern Sulawesi is polluted by Newmont Minahasa Raya mining waste. Lately, 67 families of Buyat bay left the coastal territory for drastically dropping economic and illnesses they’re suffering from; the bay need to be cleaned up from hazardous waste componenents such as heavy metals originated from tailing.

The minister of environment’s decision to approve STD application extension by Newmont Batuhijau without any preliminary scientific evaluation is very ironic and violates the precautionary principal while in fact the amount of waste to be dumped is 60 times bigger than that polluted the Buyat bay. Taking into consideration that PT NNT has actually fails to meet its security standard of STD application, the government must review the permit it has granted to the company. It’s strongly recommended that the government of Indonesia immediately revoke the STD permit of Newmont and to find waste dumping alternative other than STD.

JATAM condemned the local parliament and local government for taking no action regarding the incident. In contrast, on the other occassion both local government and local parliament have acted as messenger to forward Newmont’s complain about the enviromental standards it must submit with, to the Minister of Environment. JATAM sent a protest letter to the Government of Indonesia via Ministry of Environment, The House of Representatives, and local government and local parliament. It’s time for the government to take firm action against company like Newmont whose no respect to the environmental sustainability and always demands special treatment.

Media contact: Adi Widyanto (JATAM) : +62-21-7941559, cell. +62-81511655911

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