Friday, March 31, 2006

No, Newmont and Freeport, You Are Not Safe. Neither Will You Commit Your Crimes With Anonymity or Impunity

Letter from Indonesia: No longer can a hammer trade for mining rights

By Jane Perlez International Herald Tribune
FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2006
Freeport's profits are indeed soaring as gold prices reach 25-year highs of more than $550 an ounce. The New Orleans-based company, which has the mining giant Rio Tinto as a joint venture partner in Papua, is one of Indonesia's biggest taxpayers, and it has been for many years.

That said, the protests in Papua have shown what can happen when a natural resources company, backed by an unpopular central government and a heavy-handed military, fails to pay careful attention to the local people whose lives have been disturbed, and who feel the riches in the ground are theirs, not the foreigners.

This month Citigroup echoed the theme, saying in a report that such companies could no longer afford to ignore environmental and social issues. "In recent years, a groundswell of public opinion has caused sustainable development to become a serious business consideration for investors," the report said.

Mark Logsdon, an American geochemist who has visited the Freeport mine, agreed. Mining companies must seek and take seriously the "consent of the governed," he said. "Whether in Indonesia, Latin America or Africa, the increase in communications capability means that the essential isolation of 'resource colonies' is largely a thing of the past."


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