Newcrest’s Indonesian mining violations challenged

April 27, 2004

Newcrest’s Indonesian mining violations challenged

Vigil 28 April 8.30am
Newcrest Office- 600 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

On Wednesday 28 April, Friends of the Earth and the Mineral Policy Institute will hold a vigil outside the headquarters of Newcrest Mining company (600 St Kilda Rd Melbourne) to protest against human rights violations and breaches of environmental law in North Maluku, Indonesia.

In January 2004, a protest against Newcrest’s goldmine activities in North Maluku, Indonesia ended in tragedy. BRIMOB, Indonesia’s notorious paramilitary force, acting as security for Newcrest opened fire at the protesters causing the death of one and the beating and arrest of hundreds. Since this date local people critical of Newcrest’s mine have been subjected to police harrassment and detention without trial.

Newcrest, a Melbourne based mining company, began its goldmining operations at Halmahera in 1998. In 2003, Newcrest cleared a new open-cut mine site in the Toguraci Protected Forest, which is in violation of the Indonesian Forestry Law (Clause 38, 41/1999).

The Indonesian Human Rights Commission, KOMNAS HAM, is investigating alleged human rights violations by Brimob acting as Newcrest’s security force at the Newcrest mine. Meanwhile, WALHI - Friends of the Earth Indonesia has announced it is preparing legal action against Newcrest’s breach of environmental laws at the Toguraci mine.

Igor O’Neil from the Mineral Policy Institute says, “Protestors at Halmahera have asked for Australians to help bring Newcrest under control: They want Newcrest to prevent violence by the Brimob paramilitary security force, and respect the environment protection laws and the rights of Halmahera’s indigenous and local people to sustainable livelihoods on their traditional land.”

“Indonesian forests are in crisis, with the deforestation rate reaching more than 3.5 million hectares per year,” said Ms. Nur Hidayati from WALHI - Friends of the Earth Indonesia. “Newcrest’s operation in Toguraci Protected Forest is brazenly violating our Forestry Law and also their contract of work with our Government which states that foreign mining operators will conform to environmental law and regulation during their operations in Indonesia.”

Liz Turner from Friends of the Earth Melbourne said made clear the Australian responsibility for the events in North Maluku: “The Australian embassy in Jakarta has been involved with lobbying on behalf of Newcrest to overturn environmental protection and evict local indigenous communities from mining leases. What happens to the credibility and enforcement of Indonesia’s forest protection laws when big foreign companies can get away with ignoring them?” asked Ms Turner.

We hold this vigil in solidarity with the Kao and Malifut communities of Halmahera, North Maluku.

For comment contact:

Nur Hidayati
Ph: +62 812 997 2642

Igor O’Neill
Ph: +62 812 861 2286 or

Liz Turner
Mob: 0419 338 047.

For more information call Friends of the Earth on 9419 8700 or visit: www.mpi.org.au and www.jatam.org/english/case/nhm/