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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 20) – The management of the world’s largest gold mine - Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold - in the Indonesian province of Papua has just responded to its first independent audit report on human rights.

The U.S.-based company has promised to foster human rights and help the social development of Papuan people living near its giant mine in the highlands region.

[PIR editor’s note: A report of the International Center for Corporate Accountability Inc. (ICCA), which examined the 18,000-worker operation, was to have been released on Oct. 17]

Freeport says none of its employees or Indonesian troops protecting the mine have been involved in any reported human rights abuses.

A former Papua military chief, General Mahidin Simbolon, has been accused of human rights abuses and rights groups say Freeport paid the general a quarter of a million US dollars.

Freeport says it doesn’t follow official rules and use Indonesian military drivers because of what it calls the challenging road conditions around the mine.

A Papuan separatist rebel has been accused of killing two U.S. teachers and an Indonesian colleague in a vehicle ambush near the mine in 2002.

The company says it has exceeded targets of quadrupling the number of its Papuan employees.

October 21, 2005

Radio New Zealand International:

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