MAC: Mines and Communities

Indon Military To Secure Us Gold Mine

Published by MAC on 2006-06-19
Source: The Age ()

Indon military to secure US gold mine

The Age

19th June 2006

The Indonesian military will provide security to a massive US gold mine in Papua province despite criticism, warning it could be the target of terrorist or rebel attacks, a newspaper reported on Monday.

The mine operated by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc has long been a sore point in ongoing tensions over Papuan separatism.

Local people claim the mine is environmentally damaging and that they see little of the revenue it generates.

Lieutenant Colonel Siburian, who helps oversee intelligence in the far-eastern province, home to a decades-long separatist insurgency, said if the military fails to protect Freeport's mine, the United States may try to deploy its own forces to the site.

"We have to protect (the Grasberg mine)," Siburian was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post.
He said as well as being an important foreign asset, the mine is also partially owned by the Indonesian government.

New Orleans-based Freeport has been criticised by human rights organisations for paying millions of dollars every year to the notoriously corrupt and brutal military to protect the site.

The practice also sparked an inquiry by US government agencies earlier this year.

"If we fail to protect (Grasberg), don't blame us if foreign forces come into the company's area," Siburian was quoted as saying, adding that it was not uncommon for terrorists to target American interests.

The mine, believed to be the world's largest, has earned Freeport billions of dollars since it began production in the early 1970s after the company signed a deal with the US-backed Indonesian dictator Suharto.

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