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INDONESIA: Newmont closes controversial mine – stages “planned” pull-out in Sulawesi

by James RoseEthical Corporation
August 25th, 2004

The US gold mining giant has announced it will get out of its controversial Minahasa Raya mine in northern Sulawesi as part of its scheduled program.

The mine has been the target of massive protests by environmental and village groups and was under investigation by at least three government departments.

One of these, the police department, was reported to have shut the mine down earlier this month as a public safety hazard.

Newmont’s critics claim the mine has polluted the surrounding villages and is culpable in the death of 30 locals, reportedly from mercury poisoning.

The company says the pull-out is not a sign that it has panicked about the recent turmoil.

Company spokesperson Kassam Muleno denied that the mine’s operation was influenced by the current situation, telling us that the closure “is in line with our program for this year.”

“We have allocated US$15 million for mine closure activities. This includes US$1.5 million for community development programs,” said Rick Ness, the project’s manager.

“As with our operations, we are committed to a responsible mine closure based on sound environmental performance and sustainable community development.”

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