MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Urgent Action - Support the victims of Newmont’s Gold Mining and Submarine Tailings Disposal

Published by MAC on 2004-04-15

Urgent Action - Support the victims of Newmont’s Gold Mining and Submarine Tailings Disposal

JATAM - April 2004

Only three months remain until the closure of the Newmont Minahasa Raya gold mining operations in North Sulawesi, an operation that has left local communities facing a poverty and health crisis. Help the people of Sulawesi hold Newmont Minahasa Raya accountable for the seven years of rights violations and environmental destruction.

TAKE ACTION by sending the following letter to key decision-makers to protest the dangers of Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD), a method of dumping toxic mine waste into the ocean, banned in many countries because of the environmental impacts. http://www.jatam.org/english/case/nm/

STD devastated the community around the Newmont operation, and will be applied again by Newcrest Mining Ltd in North Halmahera and North Sulawesi, and by BHP Billiton in Gag Island, a site that UNESCO has shortlisted as a World Heritage Site for its biodiversity riches.

Submarine Tailings Disposal destroys the environment and coastal communities, and must be banned.

Background - Newmont Minahasa Raya, North Sulawesi

In 1996, production of NMR’s gold mines commenced with great promises of community prosperity and economic growth but instead caused severe environmental devstation and numerous human right violations. At no point did NMR or the government of North Sulawesi consult with the communities or involve them in decision-making. This violates the principle of prior, informed consent, which dictates participation from the community in resource projects.

NMR’s profits since 1999 have been $1.3 million per day. By contrast, the communities of Buyat Bay and Ratatotok have been left impoverished by unfair compensation for their land (Rp 250/m2 or $0.02) and a collapsed fishery caused by pollution.

NMR applied Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD), a method of dumping toxic mine waste into the ocean. The company installed a pipeline for waste disposal 9km from the mine site to the bay, at a depth of 82 metres, and disposed 2000 tons of mine waste every day.

The communities are now facing a health crisis, a direct result of STD. NMR used a cyanide-leaching process, which resulted in the contamination of water sources with various toxic materials, including mercury and arsenic. Buyat villagers suffer from a variety of health problems including tumours, on their entire body, severe headaches and birth defects.

On March 30, the communities in North Sulawesi staged a demonstration and submitted a statement to PT NMR and the provincial government of North Sulawesi demanding:
· compensation to the people of Ratatotok for their land.
· environmental rehabilitation in the villages of Ratatotok and Buyat Bay.
· economic compensation for the loss of livelihoods suffered by the communities of Ratatotok and Buyat Bay.
· health services for the communities around Buyat Bay for the next 30 years.

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