From: Chris Brummitt, Associated Press
Published October 22, 2004 12:00 AM

U.S. Mining Giant Newmont to File Lawsuit over Jailed Executives

JAKARTA, Indonesia — U.S. mining giant Newmont Mining Co. will file a lawsuit against Indonesian police, demanding they release five company executives jailed amid claims that one of its gold mines polluted a bay in central Indonesia, a spokesman said Friday.


The men — an American, an Australian, and three Indonesians — have been jailed in Jakarta since Sept. 22 while police investigate residents' claims that Newmont dumped waste containing mercury and arsenic into Sulawesi Island's Buyat Bay.


Lawyers for the Denver, Colorado–based Newmont Mining Corp.'s local subsidiary, Newmont Minahasa Raya, will file a suit against the Jakarta police on Friday, said company spokesman Kasan Mulyono.


"We are challenging the need for them to detain our employees," he said. The court should make a decision with 10 days, he said. Police were not immediately available for comment.


The U.S. embassy in Jakarta has criticized the detentions, saying they will hurt Indonesia's investment climate.


Police have tested the waters of Buyat Bay and say the results show mercury and arsenic levels there far exceed safety standards.


They recommended that prosecutors charge the detained men — as well as Newmont's director Richard Ness — with corporate crimes carrying maximum eight-year jail sentences. Ness has not been jailed due to health reasons.


On Tuesday, Indonesia's Environment Ministry released its own test results that showed there was no pollution in the bay. Results released earlier this month by WHO and Japan's Minamata Institute also showed normal mercury levels in hair samples from people living near the mine.


Police are standing by the results of their tests. No reason for the differing test results have been given.


Buyat Bat residents say alleged waste-dumping by the gold mine caused them to develop skin diseases and tumors. They have filed a separate US$550 million (euros 440 million) lawsuit against the company.


Newmont stopped mining two years ago at the Sulawesi site, about 2,090 kilometers (1,300 miles) northeast of Jakarta, after extracting all the gold it could. But it kept processing ore there until Aug. 31, 2004, when the mine was permanently shut.


Source: Associated Press


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