For immediate release: April 28, 2004
COMMUNITIES HURT BY NEWMONT MINES SEEK FAIR COMPENSATION
Groups Hope to Raise Shareholders' Awareness of Potential Liabilities in Concert With Newmont's Annual Meeting
Denver, Colorado, 4/28 — Shareholders gathering today for Newmont Mining Corp.'s annual meeting will be met by rosy financial reports, but for thousands of people living near its gold mines in Indonesia, Peru, and Nevada, living conditions continue to deteriorate. Critics charge the company's operations have polluted drinking water, contaminated fisheries and farmland, and led to serious health problems, which the multi-billion-dollar company has refused to acknowledge to its shareholders as a significant financial and social liability.
Recently, NGOs in Ghana and Indonesia have challenged Newmont's refusal to respect local laws and to compensate fairly the families and children harmed by its mining operations.
At the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, local organizations today launched a No Dirty Gold campaign, urging retailers and consumers to insist that gold be produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Newmont, the world's largest gold producer, is lobbying Ghana's government officials for permission to build a new gold mine inside a protected forest preserve.
“Is it worth destroying our last remaining forests for gold — a metal mainly used for jewelry?” asks Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, a member of a coalition of Ghanaian human rights, labor, and environmental groups that oppose Newmont's proposed mine.
And in Jakarta, community leaders asked Newmont not to abandon the communities that have suffered most from mining pollution.
“Newmont's Minahasa Raya mine has dumped millions of tons of toxic waste into Buyat Bay, which the fishing village of Ratatotok depends on for survival,” said Siti Maimunah from JATAM, an Indonesian NGO. “It is only fair that Newmont, which has made huge profits here, should clean up its mess, which is making people sick and killing off local fisheries.”
Newmont, which plans to close the Minahasa Raya mine in June, has refused community requests for information about how the company plans to repair the damage, if it at all.
In Cajamarca, Peru, where Newmont is majority owner of the Yanacocha gold mine, citizens have taken to the streets to protest expansion of the controversial mine to a sixth mountain, Cerro Quilish, an important source of drinking water in the region.
“Newmont has profited greatly from Yanacocha, but residents still suffer terrible health effects from a mercury spill that occurred four years ago,” said Catholic priest Marco Arana, a Cajamarca resident and member of the community group GRUFIDES. “We are fighting to free our community from poverty and contamination and to affirm our right to development that is based on social equality and environmental protection.”
In Nevada, Newmont's proposed Phoenix Project would exacerbate problems for Western Shoshone, whose homelands host nearly all of Newmont's Nevada operations.
“The project would deplete precious groundwater supplies at the same time it pollutes our remaining fresh water,” said Christopher Sewall of the Western Shoshone Defense Project. “We're concerned that there aren't enough guaranteed funds to cover the clean-up costs for this pollution, which could linger for centuries.”