EXPERTS ALLAY FEARS OVER FREEPORT IRIAN JAYA RULING

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (August 31, 2001 - Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---Industry experts have dismissed fears that the court ruling handed down to gold mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia in a case filed by the Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) would dampen investor sentiment in the country’s mining sector.

"The court ruling will have little impact on investment in the mining sector," Gerry Mbatemooy told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Paulo Louis Coutrier, the chairman of the Indonesian Mining Association (IMA), also expressed a similar view, saying that the case was too weak to use as a reason for not investing in the mining sector.

"I don’t see any reason why it would affect investment in the mining sector," he said.

Walhi filed a lawsuit against Freeport Indonesia, a venture of U.S.-based Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, accusing the company of spreading misleading information about an incident at its Grasberg mine in eastern Irian Jaya province last year, which allegedly claimed four lives.

PT Freeport has persistently denied the accusation.

On Monday, the South Jakarta District Court declared Freeport Indonesia guilty of spreading misleading information about its environmental activities, and violating Law No. 23/1997 on environmental management. The company was also ordered to abide by environmental guidelines set by the government.

[SEE: Court Rules Against Freeport Mine On Fatal Accident In Irian Jaya]

Gerry expressed concern over the fate of mining corporations operating in Indonesia if their rights were not protected.

But as long as mining companies abide by environmental guidelines outlined in environmental laws, they have no reason to worry, he said.

Meanwhile, PT Freeport Indonesia said on Wednesday that it would appeal the court ruling, saying that its operations in Indonesia had complied with existing regulations. It did not say when the appeal would be filed.

KABAR-IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: http://www.irja.org/index2.shtml and http://www.kabar-irian.com 

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