Monday, February 27, 2006
"CLOSE FREEPORT! CLOSE FREEPORT!"
Unhappy Indonesians rallied outside (and some inside as well) a building which housed the offices of the US based Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold Company today. The move follows the peaceful ending at the weekend of a four-day blockade of a road near Freeport's mine in Indonesia's remote Papua, after the company said it would allow local miners to continue prospecting through its waste. That blockade by hundreds of the miners brought production at the world's largest gold and copper mine to a standstill. The Freeport Papua operation has been a frequent source of controversy in Indonesia on issues ranging from its treatment of the environment to the legality of payments to Indonesian security forces who help guard operations.
The first article below is from Xinhua. The second is from KATC in Acadinia, Louisiana.
Hundreds protesters rally outside U.S. company in Jakarta
JAKARTA, Feb. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Hundreds of protesters staged a rally outside the building housing offices of the Indonesian unit of U.S. company Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold Inc. here Monday.
Over 500 people demanded the company to increase its profit allocated for the people living in areas surrounding its operational compound in Indonesia's Papua province, according to Jakarta police spokesman I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana.
Currently, the company only offers one percent of its total profit to the people near the compound.
The protesters also asked the company to employ more local people, who are mostly living in poverty, the spokesman told Xinhua by phone.
The furious protesters smashed the ground-floor windows of the building, but none reached the company's offices on the 5th and 7th floors.
Separately in Timika regency in Papua province, near the company operational compound, about 100 people staged a rally, but they failed to disrupt the company's operations, which resumed on Saturday after being suspended following protests outside the mine,the company's spokesman Siddharta Moersjid told Xinhua by phone.
Last week over 50 Papuan students studying in Jakarta attacked the company's office in Jakarta, but no casualty was reported.
The company is being investigated by the government for violating environmental law and tax payment, Indonesian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro has said. The government may review Freeport contract of work if it found guilty,he said.
The company's operations in Papua province involve mineral exploration and development, mining and milling of ore containing copper, gold and silver and the worldwide marketing of concentrates containing those metals.
The company operates through Contracts of Work with the government of Indonesia which, at the end of 2002, covered approximately 2.2 million acres.
Police use water canon against Indonesian protesters
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Police used a water canon to try to disperse hundreds of Papuan protesters who gathered Monday outside the building housing the Jakarta offices of a U.S. gold mining giant.
The demonstrators were demanding that Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. permanently shutter its massive gold and copper mine in Papua province, alleging that it had done nothing to benefit local residents.
"Close Freeport! Close Freeport!" chanted more than 200 protesters, who briefly clashed with police in Jakarta's business district, before authorities brought in a water cannon.
No one was injured, according to witnesses.
The New Orleans-based company was forced to temporarily close its mine in Papua last week after about 500 locals _ some carrying bows and arrows _ set up barricades and demanded permission to sift through waste ore.
Operations resumed on Saturday afternoon, according to Budiman Moerdijat, a Freeport spokesman.
The Grasberg mine has long had an uneasy relationship with local people, some of whom are desperately poor and argue that they should be able to retrieve and sell tiny amounts of gold and copper from waste rock dumped by the mine.
Freeport says the practice is illegal _ and dangerous.
The company also has come under fire in recent years over pollution allegations and its practice of paying security forces, long accused of rights abuses, to guard its open pit mine.
The Grasberg mine, the largest gold mine in the world and the third largest copper mine, opened in 1973.