MAC: Mines and Communities

Indonesia Update

Published by MAC on 2006-07-05

Indonesia Update

5th July 2006

Govt confident of winning Buyat case

Jakarta Post

5th July 2006

JAKARTA: The government has said it is optimistic it will win its criminal lawsuit against PT Newmont Minahasa Raya, accused of polluting Buyat Bay in North Sulawesi with gold mine tailings.

"We're not thinking of what we should do if we lose this case. We're confident that we have enough evidence to prove the company is harming the environment," Hoetomo, a senior official at the State Ministry for the Environment, told a discussion Monday evening.

Newmont president director Richard Ness is on trial at the South Sulawesi District Court in connection with the case. He could face 15 years in prison if his company is found guilty of polluting Buyat Bay. The government says tailings from the company's gold mines were dumped in the bay, causing skin irritations such as rashes and bumps.

Newmont has denied the charge, saying there is no scientific proof to support the accusations.

Hoetomo said a US$30 million out-of-court settlement, agreed to by the company in January to end the government's civil suit in the South Jakarta District Court, would not affect the criminal case.

"We have experts who will, and have, testified in favor of our findings," he said.

However, Newmont said several health and environment experts who have spoken at the trial challenged the government's claim, saying the health problems of local residents were not related to the tailings. --JP

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