IRIAN JAYA INDIGENOUS GROUP CALLS FOR FREEPORT MINING COOPERATION

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JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (April 21, 1999 - ANTARA/Kabar-Irian)---The Association of Indonesian Indigenous Entrepreneurs (HIPPI) is determined to urge the Ministry of Mines to issue a permit for the establishment of a Community Cooperative (Kopermas) in the PT Freeport mining area.

The cooperative would be dedicated to the local people, who consist of the Amungme and Kamoro tribes, who have customary (adat) and traditional rights over areas where PT Freeport Indonesia (FI) has concessions for gold, silver and copper mining.

The Chairman of HIPPI's Irian Jaya chapter, Sulaeman L. Hamzah, told the press here on Wednesday that the cooperative was designed to prevent conflict between Freeport and the owner of traditional rights over the concession areas.

According to Sulaeman, the cooperative would be exclusively dedicated to the Amungme and Kamoro tribes who had traditional rights to mine gold and copper in the areas, thus helping them improve their living standards.

He acknowledged the existence of PT Freeport Indonesia as the third biggest gold miner and second biggest copper miner in the world.

But Sulaeman claimed that PT Freeport had rarely paid proper attention to the local people's traditional rights, thus resulting in a prolonged conflict which had taken a considerable toll in terms of property as well as human lives.

So, he said, HIPPI was feeling called to help solve the conflict.

"We shall urge the Minister of Mines and Energy to give his approval for traditional mining by the cooperative," he said.

Sulaeman maintained, despite the sophistication of PT Freeport's technology, there were mining activities that can be done by the local people.

"Why not?", said Sulaeman, adding that the venture would open the opportunity for descendants of the two tribes to enjoy the wealth of their natural resources.

On the other hand, he pointed out, the operation of traditional mining by the local people would mitigate the existing conflict, thus enabling PT Freeport to carry out its activities in a peaceful condition.

Sulaeman disclosed that HIPPI had proposed the establishment of eight cooperatives, four each in Nabire and Jayapura.

He claimed that the Ministry of Mining and Energy had issued permits in principle for the cooperatives. The permits were handed down on April 8 by the Director General for General Mining, Dr. Rozik B. Soetjipto. The occasion was witnessed by the Minister of Cooperatives, Adi Sasono.

"The permits are scheduled to be delivered in Jayapura on April 22, 1999," he said.

Forest Allocation

Meanwhile, the Minister of Forestry and Plantations, Jamaludin Nasution, has allocated 10,000 hectares of forest areas to five Kopermas cooperatives.

"The approval for the allocation is contained in a letter of decision by the minister dated April 8, 1999," Sulaeman observed.

Over the areas, the cooperatives are planned to develop industrial forests. Besides, the cooperatives will also be permitted to develop cocoa and oil-palm plantations.

"The decision of the Ministry of Forestry and Plantations is a contribution to the development of people's economy," Sulaeman said.

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News")

Website: http://www.irja.org/conf.htm

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