MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Corporate Killings at Indonesian Mine? Freeport-Rio Tinto knew that October 9th Pit Wall Collapse wa

Published by MAC on 2003-11-01


Corporate Killings at Indonesian Mine? Freeport-Rio Tinto knew that October 9th Pit Wall Collapse was Coming

According to a report published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday November 1 2003, Freeport-Rio Tinto knew that a land slip at its Grasberg mine was inevitable, two days before the disaster on October 9th which has cost the lives of eight workers. [see previous posting]. However the companies effectively did nothing to prevent it since (so they claim) they did not believe the collapse would be as devastating as it proved.

Worse, they moved equipment out of the path of the expected avalanche, but failed to relocate those still working at the pit wall. This revelation takes on an even more horrendous perspective when set alongside, not only recent similar disasters elsewhere in the world, but the fact that four lives were sacrificed in 2000 when Lake Wanagon, site of the Grasberg waste rock dump, suddenly overflowed. Eleven years ago, Rio Tinto had also failed to prevent the release of more than six hundred used chemical containers into the Kelian and Mahakam rivers, just after its Kelian gold mine, in Indonesian East Kalimantn came, on stream. The cause of this mishap was torrential rain - just what Freeport-Rio Tinto now blames for the tragedy of October 9th.

On October 31 2003, the day before the Sydney Morning Herald revealed the corporate culpability of the two Grasberg operators, a coalition headed by Indonesian Friends of the Earth (WALHI) issued a statement demanding a full independent enquiry into the disaster, as well as persistent human rights abuses around the mine

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