US-run Gold Mine Warned by Indonesia

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US-run mine warned by Indonesia
Story from BBC NEWS:

Indonesia has warned of legal action against a huge US-owned
mine in Papua province, unless it does more to protect the
environment. The Grasberg gold and copper mine has been the
focus of protests by locals, who say it causes ecological
damage but has little economic benefit for them.

Four policemen and a soldier were killed in riots at the mine
last week.

The report came hours after a landslide at the mine killed
three people. Mining can potentially trigger land slips.

Several other people were injured in the accident, in which
tonnes of mud crashed through a cafeteria in the mine complex.
All the victims were Indonesians, a mine spokesman said.

The government’s warning to Freeport was sparked by an
environmental audit carried out on behalf of the Indonesian

It confirmed what activists have been saying for some time -
that US mining giant Freeport needs to improve the management
of the millions of tons of waste produced by the Grasberg
mine, one of the largest in the world.

Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said there were fears
that mounds of “tailings”, as the waste is known, could become
unstable, triggering landslides or flooding.

"Freeport must act not like it is a country within a country,"
Mr Witoelar said. “It must obey the law of the country and
take into account the feelings of the people.”


He said that mine operators would be given between “two and
three years” to put improvements into effect, or his ministry
would file a lawsuit.

The government recently settled a similar suit against mining
firm Newmont, blamed for pollution at its mine on Sulawesi
Island, when the company agreed to pay $30m to fund
environmental monitoring and community projects.

Freeport says it abides by all the necessary regulations and
will work to implement the new recommendations.

A Freeport spokesman, Siddharta Moersjid, said on Thursday
that the company “has the same objective as the Ministry of
Environment, which is to minimise the impact of our mining
operations to the environment”.

The Grasberg mine has long been the focus of protests against
Freeport, the Indonesian government, and the mine’s security
operation, run by the Indonesian police and military.

Last week a protest escalated until five security officers
were beaten by a mob. Four died straight away, and one later,
from his injuries.