Newmont Mining Fights Shareholder Proposal Questioning Practices in Indonesia

Newmont Mining seeks to quash a shareholder proposal that questions its gold-mining practices in Indonesia.

Jan. 3--Newmont Mining seeks to quash a shareholder proposal that questions its gold-mining practices in Indonesia.

Newmont lawyers wrote to federal regulators last week, asking that the Denver-based company be allowed to exclude the proposal from a shareholder vote at its 2005 annual meeting.

The proposal was sponsored by the Office of the Comptroller of New York City on behalf of several pension funds representing New York City employees, teachers, firefighters and police personnel.

The proposal asks Newmont to launch a review of its waste- disposal programs in Indonesia and to determine the degree of potential environmental and public-health risks from mining operations.

A member of another big pension fund, TIAA-CREF, is seeking a vote of members asking that the fund no longer invest in gold-mining companies because of environmental and social impacts.

Indonesian villagers agreed this week to drop a $543 million lawsuit against PT Newmont Minahasa Raya, a subsidiary of Newmont Mining, after alleging that mercury waste from the company's Minahasa gold mine polluted Buyat Bay and sickened residents.

Recent studies by the World Health Organization and the Indonesian Environmental Ministry confirmed Newmont's assertion that metals were not migrating to the water or fish. But researchers found high levels of mercury and arsenic in the bay's sediments.

In response to the New York City pension-fund request, Newmont attorneys said in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company already has accomplished what the proposal asks.

Pension fund officials could not be reached for comment. The funds serve 330,000 employees and pensioners.

Newmont officials had no further comment.

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