MAC: Mines and Communities

Amended 2003 Resolution To Cref

Published by MAC on 2003-07-15


For both ethical and financial reasons, participants request CREF:
1) To announce that CREF will make no additional gold mining-related investments, and
2) To begin an orderly divestment of all gold mining investments.

Participant's Supporting Statement

Central banks and international financial institutions hold more than 34,000 tons of gold. This is more than 13 times the annual production of the world's mines; if sold, these reserves could satisfy gold demand for more than 8 years (current demand is approximately 4,000 tons per year). Of this demand, 85% is typically used for jewelry.

Gold mining companies cause environmental and social impacts.

- Newmont Mining: The Indonesia government is sending a team to take tailing samples from gold mining firm Newmont in North Sulawesi following a report that cyanide levels in the tailings exceeded the government limit. (Jakarta Post, Moch N. Kurniawan, June 21, 2003). Newmont has admitted spilling mercury at its mining operations in Peru in 2000. "Newmont CEO Parries Environmental Attacks At Shareholder Meeting", Tom Locke, Dow Jones Newswires, May, 7, 2003)

- Placer Dome: Indigenous Dayak Meratus of Indonesia, submitted a statement at the Placer Dome Annual Shareholder meeting April 30, 2003, stating that Placer Dome's proposed gold mine on their lands threaten their environment and their very existence as indigenous peoples. The Dayak Meratus live in the last remaining native forest in Kalimantan, Indonesia, which has enjoyed protected status since 1928. Placer Dome proposes to build a gold mine in the Meratus Mountain Range Protected Forest, violating Forestry Law 41. The Dayaks have already made unequivocal statements opposing this mine. ("Three Communities Protest at Placer Dome AGM," eport from Miningwatch, Canada, April 30, 2003.)

- Rio Tinto: Rio Tinto operates over 60 mines and processing plants in 40 countries. Rio Tinto owns 90% of the Kelian gold mine in Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia. Prior to Rio Tinto's arrival to Kalimantan, small-scale gold mining was performed by the local population. Around 1989, paramilitary police forced the local miners out of the mines. In 1990, Rio Tinto acquired more land, evicting more people who had to live in shanties. A total of 440 families were displaced from their homes. Some ompensation was paid, but it was not adequate to cover losses. (Asia-Pacific Human Rights Network, Corporate Watch, Human Rights Features, July 16, 2001.)

- NewCrest Mining: The conflict between forest protection laws and mining leases issued in protected areas has created a political storm in Indonesia. Indonesian Ministers and officials fear international legal action if mining is excluded from protected areas. Media reports have linked Indonesian government fears of costly international arbitration to Australian owned projects such as Newcrest's PT. ("Protected areas international arbitration threat to Indonesia", Koran Tempo, 3 April 2002 [translation].)

It is unclear how much environmental liability, cleanup responsibility, and remediation costs may exist, and no existing audit contains information on any environmental liability.

Should CREF financially co-sponsor the manufacture and promotion of such mining activities? If not, vote for orderly divestment.

Submitted by Ann E. Marchand, Seattle

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