Newmont claims pollution case in Indonesia withdrawn
newmont Mining Corp, the world's biggest gold miner, claimed on December 28, 2004, that a $528.1 million civil lawsuit against its subsidiary pt Newmont Minahasa Raya in Indonesia for causing heavy metal poisoning has been withdrawn. Newmont was charged with dumping carcinogenic waste in Buyat Bay near its Minahasa gold mine in northeast Indonesia (see Down To Earth, 'In bad taste', October 31, 2004, p 12). Indonesia went ahead with the trial despite warnings it would dissuade investors.
Six Newmont officials were being investigated for criminal charges of causing pollution. But the company claimed the residents of Buyat Bay, who had filed the lawsuit, had withdrawn the charges and as "part of the settlement the plaintiffs acknowledge that their claims were baseless".
On December 23, the Indonesian court had ruled that the month-long detention of Newmont officials was illegal. The company claimed the ruling meant that the entire police investigation against it was illegal. Environmental group Friends of Earth also saw it in the same light: "It is kind of disappointing. It means that if the police want to resubmit the case, they have to start over from scratch." But government prosecutors said the decision will not affect their case and they will soon file charges against the company and its executives under environmental laws.
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