mineral policy institute
shareholders join with west papuans and
bougainvilleans to address rio tinto's
Thursday 4th May 2006, Melbourne, Australia.
The Indonesian Environment Forum (WALHI)
launched on May 3 a damning environmental
report on the Rio Tinto joint venture at the
Freeport Mine, ahead of shareholder concerns
and protests to be held outside the company's
Annual General Meeting today.
Based on information never before made
public, the report by Indonesia's largest
environmental NGO exposes Freeport McMoran's
failure to comply with government orders to
amend its polluting practices, despite years
of official findings that the company
is in breach of relevant regulations. WALHI
has called for the halt of the Freeport Mine
until it can comply with relevant Indonesian
Laws, and the prosecution of existing
Due to systematic repression by security
forces funded by Freeport, Indigenous people
affected by the operation are limited in
their capacity to speak out publicly
about the mine's negative impact upon
However recent news that Rio Tinto is
considering reopening the Panguna mine, whose
social and environmental disasters sparked a
civil war, have been met with calls for
caution. The International Representative for
Bouganville, Moses Havini, has called for
radical changes to the destructive
environmental and social practices of Rio
Tinto and other mining companies operating in
Mr Havini is concerned that the essential
commitments and necessary discussions with
local people are not taking place.
"Mining companies must radically change
their terms of agreement with traditional
landowners in the Pacific region. Firstly,
further independent environmental impact
studies must be carried out before any
decisions are made regarding mining in
Panguna. Secondly, the traditional landowners
should be given a fair share of any mining
venture, and their right to free, prior and
informed consent for any developments
respected. Thirdly, mining companies in the
Pacific must not pump their tailings any more
into the river systems or into the
seas," Mr Havini said.
Ethical Shareholders, such as John Poppins,
are concerned that Rio Tinto is failing to
meet even its own policy commitments.
"We want assurance our company does not seek
exemptions to applicable legislation and that
they will immediately comply with the
relevant national laws, as well as the
company's own publicly stated commitments,"
Mr Poppins said.
Executive Director of the Mineral Policy
Institute, Techa Beaumont condemned Rio Tinto
for continuing with the same irresponsible
conduct that sparked a tragic 10 year civil
war on the island of Bougainville.
"Shareholders as well as members of the
Australian public are seeking a firm
indication from Rio Tinto that it will stop
the vandalism and unjust dispossession of
peoples from their land and resources-
actions that are have caused bloodshed and
conflict surrounding it's projects."
"The Australian government needs to take
action to ensure no Australian company can
breach or buy their way around the applicable
laws and standards, and must prevent mining
projects such as Freeport and Panguna from
having devastating and destabilizing impacts
on the peoples of our region." Ms Beaumont
for further information contact in
Techa Beaumont, Executive Director, Mineral
Policy Institute + 61 409 318 406
Moses Havini, International Representative
of the Bougainville Autonomous Government:
Tommy Clarke, Free West Papua Campaign: +61
422 545 763
The WALHI environment report is available
, or contact Torry from WALHI
on +62 811 383 370 (Indonesian telephone
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