De Freeport goudmijn is de grootste en belangrijkste mijn ter wereld en ligt in voormalig Nederlands Nieuw Guinea, maar geen V.N. firma had zo’n negatieve invloed op inheemse volkeren dan de Freeport goud en kopermijn in West Papua.
In 1930 organiseerden 3 Australische broers, de Leahy broers, een expeditie om goud te zoeken in het hooggebergte en vonden inderdaad goud!
In de prachtige film “First Contact” is weergegeven en te zien hoe een en ander in zijn werk ging en hoe onverwachte confrontaties met Papoea stammen verliepen. Het werd een indrukwekkende voettocht in een gebied waar Papoea’s zich toen niet bewust waren van menselijk leven buiten hun valleien
In het rapport van Christian Zöllner is te lezen dat de documenten van betreffende expeditie in een stoffige bureau lade van een Nederlandse universiteit zijn beland en dat er niets mee werd gedaan.
Het rapport kwam in Amerikaanse handen en Amerikanen wisten hier wel raad mee.
Onder sterke invloed van Freeport kwam het New York Akkoord van 1962 tot stand en werd president J.F. Kennedy overtuigd van het grote belang om de concessierechten van betreffende toekomstige goudmijn te verkrijgen. Dat werd de deal met Indonesië, Henry Kissinger kwam in de raad van commisarissen en Nederland had het nakijken.
De oorspronkelijke bewoners, Papoea’s werden de dupe en ondanks het bestaan van het V.N. mandaat om inheemse volkeren te beschermen, heeft de wereld zelfs meegeholpen en toegestaan dat het Referendum van 1969, het zelfbeschikkingsrecht van de Papoea’s werd verkwanseld.
De film “First Contact” is een keer op TV uitgezonden, jaren geleden, maar is nu gedeeltelijk te zien via Google: klik: “First Contact”
Bekijk de film en bedenk hierbij hoe belangrijk dit gebeuren de geschiedenis van de Papoea’s zou beïnvloeden!
Freeport is de grootste belastingbetaler van Indonesië geworden en is volledig door militairen afgegrendeld en waar nog steeds regelmatig schermutselingen
De Freeport goudmijn: Lees het rapport van Christan Zöllner:
I have learned about the Grasberg mine through my grandfather. For several years he
has worked as a missionary in Western New Guinea and still is very engaged in favour
of Papuan interests. On some of his recent trips he had visited the mine and later told
me about it.
It turned out that my grandfather was also very helpful finding material on this thrilling
topic. I really appreciate that he “plundered” the library of his former missionary
organization to find sources that I could hardly have found elsewhere.
He also provided me with several photos, among them the impressive cover photograph.
– 3 –
Most people probably will be surprised to hear that the world’s largest gold mine is not
in Africa, but in New Guinea, Asia. This mine, which is called Grasberg is located in
the Surdiman Range, the western part of New Guinea’s Central Range1. The mine is
located at latitude 4° 3′ S and longitude 137° 7′ E in the Indonesian province of Papua.
The Grasberg mine is run by PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of the American
mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, and the Rio Tinto Group2, which is
another of the world’s largest mining companies. Their Grasberg operation is
exceptional in more than one way. It is not only the largest gold mine but also the third
largest copper mine in the world and it is so remote that it is regarded one of the most
difficult mines ever constructed. But Grasberg also is very controversial. The Grasberg
operation made the Government Pension Fund of Norway mark FCX-stocks as not
ethical. Both press and NGOs criticise Freeport heavily. The accusations range from
“causing severe environmental damage” (WALHI, 2006, 110) to maintaining close
financial contacts to the Indonesian military, “which has one of the worst human rights
records anywhere ” (Perlez and Bonner, 2006).
In this paper I will not only analyse the mine’s impressive technical aspects, but also
work on its impacts on the region. I will focus on the environmental effects and,
concerning Papua’s population, the role of the Indonesian military and Freeport’s
“Company commitment” programme in order to find out whether or not the accusations
(2) History of the Grasberg mine
History of West New Guinea
The first Europeans to enter New Guinea were Spanish explorers in the middle of the
16th century, but the first to show real interest in the island were the Dutch about a
century later. Still, it was not until 1848 that the Dutch finally took possession of the
whole New Guinea west of longitude 141° E.
In 1900 the Dutch seriously started exploring the island and in the following decades
sponsored 140 expeditions. Most of these were looking for petrol. Among the oildrillers
were three Dutch climbers, who in their spare time tried to climb the (until then)
1 Also referred to as Maoke Mountains (Pegunungan Maoke in Indonesian), formerly known as Snow
2 Since 1995, the Grasberg operation is run as a joint venture. For an initial payment of $1.7 billion, Rio
Tinto received 40% of all the profits deriving from the amount of ore that exceeds the 1994
production level. In 2005 that was 40% of a daily 110,00 tons. The mine still is run entirely by PT
– 4 –
unscaled Carstenz Glaciers. On their trip geologist Jean Jaques Dozy noted an
extremely huge and rich body of copper ore which he named Ertsberg (Dutch for Ore
Mountain). Dozy saw the value of the deposit, but “realized that nobody could do
anything with it. […] It was like a mountain of gold on the moon.” (as quoted in Mealey,
During the second World War, the Japanese conquered New Guinea, but were soon
driven away by the Americans who handed the territory back to the Netherlands. In
1949 the Dutch had to accept Indonesia’s independence but kept West New Guinea.
Indonesia also wanted this territory and even tried an invasion. The UN intervened and
put the colony under Indonesian administration in the New York Agreement of 1962.
For 1969, the agreement scheduled a vote for West Papua’s inhabitants between
Indonesian rule and founding its own nation. In this election, called Act of Free Choice3,
the about 1000 Papuans appointed to vote unanimously chose Indonesian rule.
Meanwhile, the last few copies of Dozy’s report about the discoveries of his Carstenzexpedition,
which included the notion of Ertsberg, lay forgotten in dusty Dutch
university libraries. Only by chance the report got into the hands and attracted the
immediate attention of Forbes Wilson, chief of exploration of an American company
named Freeport Sulphur.
History of Freeport
The Freeport Sulphur Company arose out of a syndicate of Texan enterprisers in 1912.
Its portfolio included the patents for the so called Frash process, at that time by far the
most efficient sulphur extraction process, which ensured the company a bright future.
The syndicate had founded the company in order to build the United State’s second
Frash process mine. This mine included a company town on the Gulf of Mexico with
“free port” for the distribution of the sulphur. This part of the project gave the company
its name. When the mine began producing in late 1911, “Freeport entered the mining
industry as one of the major producers of […] sulphur” (Mealy, 1996, 26).
The company grew, and in the 1930s Freeport with its three sulphur mines began
looking for other minerals to mine. It invested into international nickel operations, oil
drilling and fertilizers. The Ertsberg project became the biggest operation of the
worldwide diversification of Freeport’s actions in the 1960s. Copper and gold mining as
well as chemicals became the company’s main concerns. In 1981 Freeport merged with
McMoRan Oil and Gas.
In the 1990s, the company was divided into two companies: Freeport-McMoRan, which
included the fertilizer and chemical departments and was later brought by the fertilizer
giant IMC, and Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold. The latter owned all mining
operations, including the rapidly expanding PT Freeport Indonesia with all its
Indonesian operations. Especially the highly profitable Grasberg deposit enabled
Freeport-McMoRan to buy the larger mining rival Phelps Dodge for more than $25
billion thus creating “the world’s largest publicly traded copper company”. (New York
Establishing and Mining Ertsberg
Although an initial expedition was made 8 years before, it was not until 1967 that
Freeport picked up its plans for the Ertsberg once again4. A contract of work (COW)
was signed with the Indonesian government and test drills proved huge deposits.
Although a feasibility study predicted only marginal profits, Freeport found investors to
put up the required $200 million. The mine itself and the mill were put up and
connected by a tramway. The town of Tembagapura (“Copper City”) was built at about
half the height of the mine in the highland. A port was created and connected to the mill
by a 101-km access road. By this road a slurry line was installed to pump liquid copper
from the mill to the port (Mealey, 1996, 79f).
The mine started producing in 1972. In the following years Feeeport, by continuous
investment into the Ertsberg open pit mine and later with the GBT (Ertsberg East)
underground deposit, “produced 32 million tons of copper, gold and silver” (Leith,
Freeport of course continued looking for further deposits within the COW area and
heavily invested into its programs throughout the 1980s. In 1988 the discovery of
Grasberg (Dutch for “Grass Mountain”) deposit5, an El Dorado which held the largest
single gold reserves and the third largest copper reserves ever found. This changed the
operation from one “struggling to stay alive to one in rapid expansion” (Mealy, 1996,
23). This expansion began with the “32K Program”, which included an upgrade of mill
capacities to 32,000 tons a day (hence the name), an open pit that produced 10,000 tons
a day (the rest still came from Ertsberg East), an ore tramway on top of a mountain
ridge between the new Grasberg pit and the (by then empty) Ertsberg open pit (from
there the old Ertsberg tramway could bring the ore to the mill) and expansions for
several other parts of the infrastructure. In the following years Freeport spent more than
$700 million on Grasberg mining programs.
The mine’s continuing growth resulted in the “115K Program”, which was finished in
1995. This expansion alone required $1 billion of financing Freeport obtained by selling
minor operations and subsidiaries all over the world and privatizing huge parts of the
Indonesian operation not directly involved in the mining, like dormitories, worker’s
transportation and the Timika hospital. The expansion required “$300 million for the
mill expansion, more than $200 million for the heavy equipment, and $250 million for
the ore flow system” (Mealey, 1996, 179). Bringing the heavy equipment from the mill
to the mine was the most difficult part of the operation, as neither the ore tramway nor
the bulldozer track could be used to bring up the 45 Caterpillar 793s trucks which each
can carry more than 200 tons of rock. The solution was called HEAT (Heavy
Equipment Access Trail), a road that needed 22 months to be completed, is up to 20%
steep and is more than twice as long as the air-distance between mill and mine. This
expansion and several smaller ones that followed made Grasberg what it is today: The
lowest-cost copper mine in the world.
(3) The Grasberg mine today
The process of mining
As the Grasberg pit is located at an altitude of 4,720 metres and therefore nearly
constantly clouded, satellites have to be used to direct the huge mining trucks from the
hydraulic shovel inside the 2.5-kilometre-wide pit to either the overburden stockpiles or
the ore crushers. Of the approximately 1 million tons of rock moved each day through
the whole year, only 230,000 tons are rich enough6 and sent to the crushers, which are
positioned at an elevation of about 3,800 meters, the rest is dumped at the stockpiles
around the pit. On its way to the mill the refined ore goes through a system of ore passes
and conveyor belts where it nearly looses another kilometre in altitude.
At the mill, the ore is at first reduced to fine gravel of a size of partly less than 40 μm7.
This powder is mixed with a special cocktail of chemicals, which makes the metal
particles gather at the surface so that they can be separated from the rest. This process is
called “floating” and produces 6,900 tons of a powdery concentrate every day, which
has a metal concentration of about 30%. The remaining 97% of the ore that is brought
into the mill, the so called tailings, are dumped as well. Mixed with water, the
concentrate becomes a slurry that is pumped through a 109-kilometre-steel-pipeline to
the port of Amampare on the coast. From there it is transported to smelters all around
the world. The smelter that receives the largest share of Grasberg ore is one on the
Indonesian island of Java8. Combined, these smelters finally produce 2000 tons of
copper, 400 kilograms of silver and 240 kilograms of gold a day that then is sold on the
world market (Poth, 2008).
Until 2001 Freeport had invested about $4.5 billion into its West Papuan operation, $3.5
billion of it after the discovery of Grasberg. Most of it went into infrastructure and
material required for the mining itself. The heart of the operation of course is the pit,
which is constantly expanded by “one of the largest fleets of heavy-duty mining
equipment in the world” (Mealey, 1996, 173). These huge vehicles bring the ore to
crushers which produce a rough gravel that is further transported by the conveyor
system. This system consists of a network of several parallel conveyor belts so that the
ore flow does not stop when one of the belts breaks, which happens relatively often. A
useful part of this network are the so called ore passes. In them, the ore is dropped
several 100 meters and further compressed through the force of the free fall.
The mill with its several crushers and concentrators is built on an artificially expanded
plateau. This plateau also hosts the diesel-run power plants that provide the mill with
energy. Next to ore and electricity, the mill also requires a lot of water. The rainwater
that collects itself inside the Grasberg pit is pumped to the mill through an adit and for
shortages Lake Wilson (the former Ertsberg pit) offers reserves.
The lifeline of the whole operation certainly is the 109-kilometre access road, which is
very damageable and therefore constantly maintained by a crew of 180 men with an
annual budget of $5 million.
The 17,000 workers employed by PT Freeport Indonesia and its subcontractors are
accommodated in several “company towns”. The oldest of these is Tembagapura, which
was constructed at the very beginning of the Ertsberg operation and is the one nearest
to the mine. The most exclusive is Kuala Kencana. For half a billion dollars Freeport
constructed this western-styled township surrounded by New Guinea’s jungle with
commodities ranging from shopping centres to an 18-hole golf course. The only town
that derives out of a Papuan village is Timika, located at about half the distance between
the coast and the mill, which hosts several Freeport related organizations. In this town
one can also find the Sheraton hotel, a luxury hotel the company built for its guests.
The copper, gold and silver market
While Freeport reduced its production costs even further, the prices for metal went up
dramatically. In 2006, one could earn $3,000 with one ton of copper, two years later the
price had risen to $8,000 (Poth, 2008). Gold and silver prices also rose. In January 2008
the price for gold reached $900 per ounce, which is about $32 per gram. At the moment,
the silver prices are at about $16 per ounce or $0.5 per gram. Calculating with these
prices, Freeport’s output sells for $23 million a day (http://www.metalprices.com).
The rise is connected to the high demand in industrializing countries like China or India,
especially for industrial metals like copper. The prices are predicted to grow even
(4) Impacts on the population
Population of Western New Guinea
The two Indonesian provinces Papua and West Papua that make up Western new
Guinea have a combined total population of about 2.5 million people. About half of
these are, mainly Christian, Papuan natives. The other half of the population is made up
by Indonesians that were resettled there from overcrowded isles like Java. They are
mainly Muslims and live in the more urban areas, where they form the upper class,
control the local governments and discriminate against the Papuans.
Freeport’s operation is located in the Mimika district, which has a population of about
120,000 people. Before the beginning of the mining operation, the COW area was
mainly populated by two Papuan tribes. The Amungme, who dwell in the highlands and
make a living with agriculture. Some of their villages had to be relocated to gain space
for Tembagepura and the growing overburden stockpile. The other tribesmen are
Kamoro, fisherman that live in the lowlands near the rivers. They badly suffered from
the tailings that were pumped in their rivers and poisoned their fish, until the affected
villages were relocated as well. Today these tribes and the other Papuans that moved to
the area are only a minority, which, with less than 20%, is also under-represented in
Freeport’s workforce. Only recently Freeport applied a policy that new jobs are first
offered to local tribesmen, then to other Papuans and only then to Indonesians from
– 9 –
Company commitment and the 1% fund
For a long time Freeport was largely ignorant of the social situation in its COW area.
Freeport’s only interest in the locals was to keep them away from the mine and Suharto’s
military did a great job there. It was not until 1995, when NGOs smuggled reports of
oppression and human rights violations out of Indonesia and made it an international
headline, that the company began thinking about development programs. In 1996,
serious riots did great damage to the infrastructure so that the mine had to be closed
down for some time. Immediately the development programs that had been in
discussion were implemented. The main part of these was the so called 1% fund, in
which PTFI until today invests 1% of its annual gross revenue, approximately $15
million annually. From this fund, social development programs are funded.
In the beginning, the money was distributed among the local government agencies and
NGOs, but this did not prove to be very efficient. Since the second year of the fund, the
money is directly managed by the company. The money was invested into projects such
as housing for natives, medical facilities that offer free treatment, schools, a
transportation network and scholarships. Parallel to this, Freeport provides projects like
a community affairs department with a staff of 80 employees, a malaria control program
and the so called Land Right Trust Fund for the benefit of the local Amungme and
Kamoro. Today the company invests about 2% of its gross revenue into its many social
The role of the TNI
In times of president Suharto, the Indonesian constitution required the military (TNI) to
protect facilities of national importance. Since its beginnings, the Freeport operation
belonged to these facilities. Although not explicitly said in the COW, the Indonesian
government required the company to provide infrastructure like barracks and offices for
government agencies such as police and military, and to grant them free access to its
facilities. The military did its job and for decades protected the mine without getting
much international attention.
Of course, the relationship between the TNI and the company was quite controversial
for some time, but it was not until 2002 that it would become an important topic. In
August of that year, a party of teachers working for PTFI was ambushed, two
Americans and one Indonesian died. An initial police report proposed that the TNI had
staged the ambush to convince Freeport of additional payments9. This triggered an
international discussion, in the course of which Freeport admitted having paid $35
million for housing and offices and $5 million annually for the site’s protection. Still
NGOs believe in a much deeper relationship with much more money being paid. They
also claim that until 2002, much of the money did not go to the military as an institution
but to high ranking individuals, which is strictly forbidden by the US Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act. Neither of this can be proved or denied, as Freeport does not disclose its
In 2004 a presidential decree ruled that industrial facilities are to be guarded by the
police forces instead of the military. The guard changed in 2006. 600 policemen were
moved in to reinforce the 100 local policemen, and half of the formerly 700 soldiers
were removed. The remaining forces now are officially fighting the OPM instead of
protecting the mine, but still operate in the mine’s immediate surroundings.
Ever since the founding of Indonesia, the country’s constitution guaranteed human
rights to everyone. But in order to hold the nation together and to make personal profit,
the Suharto regime ignored this fact. As the national government did not care, the
regional government virtually did not exist and the corrupt military was the only
authority in the area, many human rights violations occurred within the COW area at
that time. Indonesia’s transmigration program, that brings Javanese people to the areas
traditionally inhabited by Papuans and Freeport’s relocation of natives from areas which
had great cultural meaning to them are commonly regarded as human rights violations.
But the most vital violation were the means both TNI and company security forces used
to control the population. Things worsened in 1994, when the COW was expanded and
the OPM resistance led to the killing of a Freeport worker. The company requested
additional soldiers from the TNI which “systematically terrorized the local population
with summary executions, murder, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, intimidating,
surveillance, destruction of property and unexplained disappearances.” (Leith, 2003,
169f) The campaign did not only lead to hundreds of refugees hiding in the jungle and
37 dead citizens, but also to human rights reports that leaked to the outside world in
1995 and attracted international attention.
The public pressure put an end to the TNI’s campaign. To recover its reputation, the
company blamed the TNI and stated that its own personnel did not have anything to do
with the human rights violations. But still it has to bear a part of the blame. It not only
requested the military but also knew about the violations, which partly even took place
in company facilities, and failed to report them to any authority. The military saved face
by distributing among its soldiers booklets on how to treat Papuans.
– 11 –
Since this incident, and especially since the fall of Suharto, the military maintains a low
profile in the COW area and the company itself applies a strict human rights policy.
(5) Impacts on the environment
There are two types of waste that a mine like Grasberg produces and that are potentially
dangerous for the environment. One of these is the so called overburden, rock that is not
worth being processed but that has to be removed in order to access richer deposits.
About 25% of this rock is ordinary limestone which has to be brought away to prevent
the pit walls from getting to steep. It causes no severe environmental damage apart from
the fact that it is piled on the untouched alpine environment and destroys parts of the
ecosystem. The other 75% of the overburden contain small amounts of metals.
The overburden piles are a source of erosion and likely to collapse. The most severe
stockpile collapse until now has hit a lake and caused a 15 meter high wave that killed
four people and swept several toxics from the mine wastes into the valleys, especially
acid rock drainage, short ARD.
“ARD is an oxidation process which produces acid and releases heavy metals from the mineral
form, enabling these pollutants to leave the mine site or tailings deposition area,
and migrate into other environments through groundwater and surface water
drainage. Impacts from ARD can have a delayed onset […] and it is probable that
wherever large volumes of acid-generating rock are excavated that there will be
some kind of long-term impact.” (Kempton, H. on a 2003 conference as quoted
by WALHI, 2006, 53)
Since the very beginning of the operation, one can observe copper-blue water in the
waterbodies below the piles, a clear sign for ARD. The danger of ARD is that through
the groundwater this might get into the local food chain. It is estimated that by 2003,
already 1,300 tons of ARD producing rock were on the overburden stockpiles. About
80% of this rock’s metal content will leach out as ARD over the next decade. With the
further expansion of the pit, more and more of the overburden will be acid-neutralizing
limestone, but this will by no means be enough to balance the enormous amounts of
ARD that will be set free.
PTFI estimates that until the end of open pit mining in 2014, 3 billion tons of
overburden will be produced, other sources talk of up to 4 billion tons (WALHI, 2006,
The chemical separation at the ore mill filters the richest 3% out of the Freeport ore.
The other 97% are the so called tailings, that are released directly into the local river
– 12 –
system and flushed away into the lowland. This method is called “riverine tailings
disposal” and is only practised by a handful of mines. Most mines construct dams to
collect the tailings slurry in a remote valley. Furthermore it is a standard procedure to
pipe the tailings to more adequate areas if such a dam cannot be constructed near the
respective mine. Freeport does neither, but claims that after extensive studies “riverine
tailings disposal” was found to be the safest and best possible alternative.
The released tailings are potentially very dangerous for the environment. As the mill
filters out only 86% of the copper from the ore, the tailings still contain the remaining
14% of it and are a potential source of ARD. One also can find remains of the chemicals
used for the separation of the ore. But the danger from ARD and chemicals is disputed,
because the limestone from the riverbeds could neutralize large amounts of these, but it
is impossible to say how much exactly. What is indisputable is the physical destruction
of large areas of lowland rainforest where the slurry collects in the 230 km2 large Ajkwa
Deposition Area (ADA) where it mounts up to 15 meters.
It is estimated that until 2005, 1 billion tons of tailings were produced and that during its
lifetime, a total of 3 billion tons of tailings will come from the Grasberg open pit.
The Indonesian government’s position
Under Suharto, the Indonesian government largely ignored Freeport’s environmental
records. They needed the money that could be made with New Guinea’s vast resources.
Whenever parts of the Indonesian bureaucracy demanded more regulations and
accountability, the close ties to the president and his elites paid off. “Suharto simply had
no interest in demanding anything that would limit the profits of his favourite
transnational.” (Leith, 2003, 185). Even the borders of the World Heritage-listed
Lorentz National Park, which is located east of the COW area, were modified to enable
Freeport access to the profitable deposits.
The fall of Suharto’s government in 1998 changed things. Especially president Wahid’s
(1999 – 2001) minister of environment Sonny Keraf tried to make companies like
Freeport accountable for environmental impacts of its operation and add certain clauses
to the COW. The former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, by that time Freeport-
McMoRan Copper and Gold board member was send to negotiate with president
Wahid, who ordered his minister to stop. Kissinger stayed with Wahid as unpaid advisor
and maintained Freeport’s influence on the government. Freeport was not as successful
with later Indonesian governments, but still is economically very important, being
Indonesia’s largest single taxpayer, and therefore has a special status.
As nearly any country in the world, today’s Indonesia has laws to limit environmental
– 13 –
damage, like a Fresh Water Quality law or a Hazardous Waste Law that of course also
apply for Freeport’s operation. But the problem is not a lack of environmental
regulations but the difficulties enforcing them. The Indonesian government has to rely
on Freeport’s own measurements. In 2006 it was announced that the ministry of
environment would conduct its own studies, but until today none were done (WALHI,
2006, 47). The external studies that are made are all funded by Freeport and therefore
are not regarded as very reliable. Until today, Freeport does not allow independent
assessment, even the NGOs can only guess.
“Freeport and a number of NGOs have for years been locked in a power struggle”
concerning the environmental impacts of its mining operation (Leith, 2003, 181).
Before 1998, with nearly no regulation laws and a government that did obstruct the
work of NGOs, the company had not done much in environmental matters. The only
notable action was the building of levees on both sides of the ADA to collect the
tailings that would otherwise have flooded the access road and the town of Timika. But
with the Suharto government gone and the NGOs campaigning in the US and lobbying
possible investors, the pressure on Freeport was high enough to enlarge investments.
“Today the company states that it is spending more than $40 million annually on
environmental programs, and it estimates that environmental management and
monitoring costs for the mines life will be approximately $1.6 billion.” (Leith, 2003,
186) This programs focus on the lowlands and include the building of laboratories, the
exploration of the unique landscape and the recultivation of the ADA. Despite these
recent efforts, the damage done in the operation’s early history “is extensive,
irreversible, and predicted to last into the next century.” (Leith, 2003, 252)
(6) The Future
As the lowest-cost copper mine, Grasberg alone certainly has a bright future. In 2014,
underground mining of the lower Grasberg deposits will replace the open pit mining and
make the deposit profitable for at least another century. But Grasberg is not the only
part of the Indonesian operation that will be of importance in the next years. The 1991
COW did not only include mining rights for the 100 km2 Ertsberg/Grasberg area.
Together with another treaty from 1994, it gave Freeport exclusive exploration and
mining rights in an area of about 36,000 km2 in the Western New Guineas highlands for
up to 50 years. So far, the extensive exploration program has been successful:
“Mining will start on at least three other ore deposits in the next 10 years. These will also be
underground mines, however, exploration has reportedly identified about 70 other potential
– 14 –
mining sites within the PTFI concession areas, at least one of which has the potential to be
developed into another open pit mining operation.” (WALHI, 2006, 21)
Especially with the recent surge in metal prices this promises huge profits for Freeport.
But this may also be a source of further trouble. The environmental and social NGOs,
well organized and active as never before will continue with their resistance. Since the
dismissal of president Wahid Freeport has lost much influence on a government which,
becomes more and more self confident in dealing with foreign capital.
After all I can say that the Grasberg mine certainly is one of the technically most
complex and economically most successful projects of today’s mining industry. But as
impressive as that might be, there still is the other side of the coin, dominated by
corruption, human rights violations and the destruction of the environment. These
aspects were, in the first place, the basis for all the technical and economical
superlatives the mine has today. Nowadays however, the ruthless policy gets back at
Freeport. The lack of both social and environmental policies in the project’s early years
now begin to cost the company astronomically high amounts of money.
And this trend will continue. I think that there are even more points that have to be
added to Freeport’s record of failures, and because of them more and more long-term
costs will arise. We still can only guess what the final consequences of the ARDproducing
overburden will be. Freeport still does not allow independent environmental
assessments and publishes virtually nothing its high tech environmental laboratory has
found out. The most probable reason I can imagine for this is that there is something
serious to hide.
But despite all the this I am convinced that a well situated and powerful company like
Freeport-McMoRan will continue its mining operation in Western New Guinea over the
next decades and that this operation will continue to be very profitable, especially when
there remains such a high demand for metal in the world.
One can only hope that Freeport’s next projects in the area will achieve a better balance
of social, environmental and economic aspects. Therefore, it is necessary that the NGOs
continue to campaign. And for this, media like the Internet delivers a good basis,
making it impossible for a company like Freeport, however remote it may operate, to do
so secretly. This ever-growing international transparency will further reduce the
companies possibilities to reach its aims by means of bribery and corruption.
ADA – Ajkwa Deposition Area
ARD – Acid Rock drainage, also called AMD (Acid Metal Drainage)
COW – Contract of Work
FCX – Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold’s shortage on the stock market
GBT – Gunung Bijih Timur (East Ore Mountain)
HEAT – Heavy Equipment Access Track
NGO – Non governmental Organization
OPM – Organisasi Papua Merdeka (Free Papua Movement)
PTFI – PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of FCX
TNI – Tentera Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian Defence Forces), the Indonesian army
WALHI – Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (Indonesian Forum for Environment)
The more than 2 kilometres wide open Grasberg pit
in 2006, photo from WAHLI 2006.
A photograph of the COW area with the Ertsberg
pit in front and the much larger Grasberg pit in the
background. Photo from WAHLI 2006.
Huge mining trucks transporting ore out of the pit,
photo from Global Witness 2005.
A replacement part for the mining equipment is
brought up the HEAT. Photo by Siegfried Zollner.
– 16 –
A map of the Freeport COW Block A area. Block A contains only the Ertsberg and Grasberg operations.
The COW Block B area is much larger and contains most of the Western New Guinean highland. This
map was taken from Leith 2003.
– 17 –
One of Grasberg’s overburden stockpiles, photo
from WALHI 2006. One of the villages Freeport built to house the
relocated antives, photo by Siegfried Zollner.
Ruined rainforest in the ADA tailings deposit,
photo by Siegfried Zollner. A view on the ADA area some time later, from
Indonesian police guards near the mine site, photos from Global Witness 2005.
Banks, G., Paull, D. and Mockler, S., The Social and Environmental Impact of Mining in Asia-
Pacific: The Potential Contribution of a Remote-Sensing Approach, Canberra 2005
< http://rspas.anu.edu.au/papers/rmap/Wpapers/rmap_wp60.pdf >
Global Witness, Paying for Protection – The Freeport mine and the Indonesian security
< http://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_detail.php/139/en/paying_for_protection >
– 18 –
Hafield, Emmy, Freeport’s 1999 External Audit: An Independent Review?, Biak 2000
Leith, Denise, The Politics of Power – Freeport in Suharto’s Indonesia, Honolulu 2003,
university of Hawai’i Press
Mealey, George A., Grasberg – Mining the richest and most remote deposit of copper
and gold in the world in the mountains of Irian Jaya, Indonesia, Singapore 1996,
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.
Montgomery Watson Indonesia, External Environmental Audit 1999 (excluding social,
cultural and economic impacts) of PT Freeport Indonesia Operations, Irian Jaya,
Indonesia, Jakarta 1999
Myerson, Allen R., IMC to Buy Freeport-McMoran Inc. for $750 Million, in: New
York Times 1997 / 7 / 29
< http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C02E2DF103AF93AA15754C0A961958260 >
New York Times, Copper Merger Is Approved, in: New York Times 2007 / 3 / 15
< http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/15/business/15mine.html >
Perlez, J. and Bonner, R., Below a Mountain of Wealth, a River of Waste, in: New
York Times 2005 / 12 / 27
Perlez, J. and Bonner, R., Recklessness in Indonesia, in: New York Times 2006 / 1 / 9
< http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/09/opinion/09mon2.html >
Poth, Hartmuth, lecture about Freeport, Universitat Bochum 2008
< notes printed in Additional Sources >
PTFI Public Relations Department, Briefing Information, Timika 1998
WALHI, The Environmental Impacts of Freeport-Rio Tinto’s Copper and Gold Mining
Operation in Papua, Jakarta 2006
< http://www.eng.walhi.or.id/kampanye/tambang/frpt-report-may-06/ >
Zollner, Dr. Siefried, Chronologie Freeport zur Orientierung, 2007
< printed in Additional Sources >
Zollner, Dr. Siefried, personal interview, February 2008
Mitschrift von Dr. Siegfried Zöllner zur Vorlesung von OStR Hartmuth Poth uber
Freeport, Universitat Bochum, am 17. 1. 2008
Tägliche Förderung : 2000 t Kupfer
400 kg Silber
– 19 –
240 kg Gold
aus ca. 230.000 t Gestein, wovon 97% Abraum sind.
Verbleiben 6.900 t verwertbares Erz taglich. Dies Erz wird uber Pipelines an den
Hafen transportiert und in Java verarbeitet.
Brutto Jahresertrag in US $: 1,4 Milliarden
Der Weltmarktpreis von Kupfer pro Tonne (t):
2006 3.000 US $
2008 8.000 US $
Zu den Langzeitfolgen gehort ein chemischer Prozess, der sich in der
Haldenablagerung bildet und zur Saurebildung fuhrt. Gefahrlich, da die Saure in den
FeS2 + O2 + H2O 2H2SO4 + Cu2+ + Fe (OH)3
CuFeS2 + O2 + H2O H2SO4 + Cu2+ + Fe (OH)3 + SO4
Dr. Siegfried Zöllner – Chronologie Freeport zur Orientierung
1967 Vertrag mit Indonesien (Problematisch: Erst 1969 bekam Indonesien die volle
Souveranitat uber West-Neuguinea)
ca.1971 Beginn des Aufbaus Ausbeutung des sog. Ertsberg
ca.1985 Eroffnung der sog. Grasbergmine (Grasberg, ein Berg ganz in der Nahe vom
1991 Erweiterung der Freeport – Konzession auf 2,6 Mill. Ha., gultig fur 30 Jahre
1995 Erster bekannt gewordener MR-Bericht der kath. Kirche, ubernommen von AI.
1996 (Marz) Aufstand der Bevolkerung, Brande, Zerstorung Reaktiondes
Unternehmens: Einsetzung des sog. 1% Fond (wird bis heute gezahlt)
1998 Die ind. Umweltorganisation Walhi klagt gegen Freeport
1998 Suharto tritt zuruck, polit. Lockerung
99/2000 Fur ein Jahr ist Abdurrahman Wahid Prasident. Hat einen mutigen
Umweltminister, Sony Keraf, der den Arbeitvertrag mit Freeport neu aushandeln
will. Freeport und USA schicken Henry Kissinger als Vermittler nach Jakarta
– 20 –
2000 erscheint der Umwelt – Audit der Fa. Montgomery-Watson, sehr kritisiert, weil
von Freeport finanziert
31.8.2002 Uberfall einer bewaffneten Gruppe auf zwei Kleinbusse des
Bergbauunternehmens Freeport in der Nahe der Minenstadt Tembagapura. Zwei
amerikanische und ein indonesischer Lehrer der internationalen Schule sterben,
10 Personen werden verletzt, unter ihnen Amerikaner und Indonesier. Die Polizei
stost auf Indizien dafur, dass die beruchtigten Sondereinheiten Kopassus hinter
dem Uberfall stehen. Schwere Belastung des Verhaltnisses Indonesien – USA.
Haupttater: Antonius Wamang (In Jakarta inzwischen zu lebenslanglich
23.-25.8.2003 Strasenschlachten in Timika anlasslich des Versuchs von
Regierungsbeamten, die Provinz Mittel-Irian-Jaya auszurufen. Die Unruhen
fordern funf Tote. Die Provinz Mittel-Irian-Jaya kommt vorlaufig nicht zustande.
9.10.2003 Schweres Ungluck in der Mine (Erdrutsch in der Grube), 8 Tote
2004 regelt ein Prasidentenerlass, dass nicht mehr das Militar, sondern die Polizei fur
den Schutz von Unternehmen zustandig sein soll.
16.3.2006 Demonstration von Studenten mit der Forderung, die Freeport-Mine zu
schliesen. Es kommt zu Kampfen mit der Polizei, vier Polizisten und ein Militar
werden von Demonstranten getotet. Zahlreiche Studenten werden von der Polizei
gesucht, viele fliehen nach PNG. (Voraus gingen im Februar Demonstrationen
in Timika, der Grund: Das Goldwaschen an den Abwassern unterhalb der Mine
wurde vom Militar untersagt.)
– 21 –
Hiermit versichere ich, dass ich die Arbeit selbststandig angefertigt, keine anderen als
die angegebenen Hilfsmittel benutzt und die Stellen, die im Wortlaut oder im
wesentlichen Inhalt aus anderen Werken entnommen wurden, mit genauer
Quellenangabe kenntlich gemacht habe.
Verwendete Informationen aus dem Internet sind der Lehrerin vollstandig im Ausdruck
zur Verfugung gestellt worden.
Mulheim, den 11.02.08
4.10.2008: From report 53: WPAT en Etan overhandigen verklaring over Freeport
Op 24.9.2008 overhandigden de mensenrechten organisaties WPAT en ETAN een verklaring
over de Freeport praktijken tijdens een mensenrechten senaat zitting.
Het ging over het onttrekken van natuurlijke bronnen, milieu vervuiling, gezamenlijke verantwoordelijkheid en wetshandhaving.
Er zijn maar weinig voorbeelden te noemen van V.N. firma’s die zo’n negatieve invloed op
inheemse volkeren hebben gehad dan de Freeport goud en koper mijn, die gedurende 40 jaar in West Papua deze mijn heeft geëploiteerd.
Men maakte zich schuldig aan mensenrechten schennis en milieu vervuiling. Men betaalt militairen in ruil voor bescherming. Dit terwijl het leger de provocatie zoekt om hun voortdurende aanwezigheid in het gebied te rechtvaardigen.
Protesten van de lokale bevolking worden met geweld beantwoord.
Deze dodelijke cyclus moet stoppen. De V.N. politiek kan hier ingrijpen en de militaire hulp schorsen totdat hervormingen werkelijk worden doorgevoerd.
Lees de volledige verklaring en aanvullende documenten:
5.11.2008 from report 54: Senate Testimony Regarding Freeport’s Impact on The Lives of Papuans
Abi Abrash Walton — assistant to the President of Antioch University of New England for sustainability and social justice and associate core faculty in the Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program — provided testimony which was read into the record of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law for its September 24, 2008, hearing on “Extracting Natural Resources: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law.” Her research about the human rights and environmental impacts of mining in West Papua and the need for greater corporate accountability formed the basis for her testimony.
5.1.2009: From report 56:
Freeport McMoran, Facing Dire Financial Straits, Nevertheless Continues Its Grave Damage to West Papua
Bloomberg, in late December, described the giant copper and gold mine Freeport McMoran as “trapped” in the international “copper collapse.” The Bloomberg report said that after enduring the status of the worst performing stock among the North American mining companies in 2008, it may not fare much better in 2009. Freeport shares have fallen 79 percent, the biggest loss in the 16-member Philadelphia Gold and Silver Index and the steepest decline since the shares started trading in 1996. The company cut its U.S. workforce by 20 percent and trimmed production plans for next year by 5 percent after delaying production at two mines in November. A separate Reuters report earlier in December noted that it had cut 75 jobs from its Jakarta headquarters but that it continues to employ approximately 12,000 workers at the main Grasberg site in West Papua.
Meanwhile, the Medical Journal of Australia, in December, published an overview of the health and human rights environment in West Papua. It drew upon reporting in the UK “Guardian” which claimed that mining operations in West Papua are not complying with adequate health and safety standards, resulting in the release of toxic waste into rivers, destruction of natural vegetation, deforestation and flooding. These charges have been credibly levelled against Freeport for many years, particularly with regard to its destruction of the Ajkwa river system which it uses as a tailings dump.
The Guardian report, cited by the Medical Journal, notes that as a consequence of the environmental damage, local communities are facing the loss of their traditional livelihoods and mass displacement from their lands. In addition, the influx of large numbers of migrants from other parts of Indonesia to work in the mines (such as to the largely migrant city of Timika which services the Freeport mine) is leading to fundamental changes in the demography and culture of affected regions.
Unchecked migration continues to displace the poorest people from jobs and land, invariably the indigenous Papuans. According to the Guardian report, the risk is that Papuans will become a minority group in their own homeland. Whereas indigenous Papuans comprised 96 percent of the population in 1971, they accounted for only 59 percent in 2005.
7.10.2010: Earth Alarm 124: Uit Papoea, Nieuw Guinea: Goudmijn vernietigend voor Nieuw Guinea
Zusterorganisatie Walhi vraagt hulp in haar campagne tegen de vervuiling veroorzaakt door de Grasbergmijn op Nieuw Guinea. Het afval van deze koper- en goudmijn
vervuilt het hele rivierensysteem. Er ontstaat ernstige schade aan het milieu met grote gevolgen voor mens en dier.
Het Nederlandse ABP is aandeelhouder in het mijnbouwbedrijf. Via hen wil Walhi de druk op het bedrijf opvoeren. Mocht dit geen resultaat hebben, dan zou ABP haar aandelen van de hand moeten doen.
Rondom de afvalberg van deze mijn gebeurde veel ongelukken.
Het bedrijf stort dagelijks ruim 200 duizend ton zuur en met koper verontreinigd spoelwater van de mijn in de rivier.
Het giftige afval tast de natuur en het leefmilieu van de lokale bevolking aan. Het drinkwater is vervuild en de visstand is aangetast.
De bevolking heeft al een groot deel van haar leefgebied aan de mijn verloren. Mens en dier worden langzaam vergiftigd.
Freeport noemt de huidige werkwijze op haar website verantwoord.
Walhi is er achter gekomen dat Freeport het afvalwater onvoldoende reinigt. Landbouw- en natuurgebieden aan de monding van de rivier zijn omgetoverd in een gigantisch slibdepot van wel 230 vierkante kilometer, dat uitkomt in zee en lekt naar het grondwater.
Het bedrijf lapt de milieuregels aan haar laars!
Het Noorse staatspensienfonds heeft al afstand genomen van het bedrijf en alle investeringen stopgezet.
Het ABP is door het aandelenbezit mede-eigenaar van de onderneming en draagt dus ook verantwoording voor het gedrag van de onderneming in kwestie.
Greenpeace and the Berne Declaration will contribute again the Public Eye Awards in 2012 for the most irresponsible, exploitative and polluting company of the year. The vote starts today!
Vote mining giant Freeport as worst company in Public Eye’s worst company award.
Precious metals in exchange for death and exploitation: The Arizona-based mining corporation has operated the Grasberg Mine, the world’s largest gold and copper mine in West Papua, for 45 years without regard for nature and people. The mine produces 230,000 tons of tailings contaminated with heavy metals every day, resulting in a blanket of copper-laden waste covering over 200 square kilometers (90 square miles) and up to 15 meters (50 feet) deep that kills everything in its path and threatens a World Heritage site. In a large strike at the end of 2011, two strikers were shot dead by the police and union members received death threats. Switzerland is the fifth-largest trading center for Freeport’s precious metals (after the U.S., Japan, Indonesia and Spain).
ABOUT FREEPORT MCMORAN
Headquarters: Arizona, USA
Revenue / Profit: USD 19 billion / USD 4.3 billion (2010)
Owned by: publicly-listed corporation
CEO: Richard C. Adkerson
IRRESPONSIBLE CORPORATE BEHAVIOR
Freeport McMoRan has been exploiting West Papua for four decades. Thanks to 1967 deal with then-dictator Suharto, the corporation has been able to brazenly help itself to the vast gold and copper reserves of West Papua . As a result, Freeport contaminates the environment, drives the indigenous population into slums, and ruins their religious and cultural sites. They have removed a mountaintop considered sacred by local indigenous people to create the world’s largest copper and gold mine. The activities of Freeport lead to social disintegration and the creation of ghettos. This form of economic colonization inhibits the development of society, drives people to prostitution, and promotes the sharp rise in HIV infections in the West Papuan population.
The mine produces 230,000 tons of tailings contaminated with heavy metals every day, resulting in a blanket of cement-like waste covering over 200 sqaure milesand up to 15 meters (50 feet) deep that kills everything in its path. The Lorentz National Park, a World Heritage site, is increasingly threatened by Freeport’s toxic waste. The displaced population lives in slum-like conditions: In the mining town of Timika, more than half the population lives below the poverty line. Crime, prostitution and HIV infections are steadily rising. The corruption of military and police adds oil to the fire in West Papua’s already unstable political climate. The potential for conflict surges, with repeated riots, injuries and deaths. More than 160 people have been fatally shot by the military in the surroundings of Freeport’s Grasberg Mine.
CURRENT STATUS AND DEMANDS ON THE COMPANY
Thousands of underpaid mine workers went on strike at the end of 2011, temporarily paralyzing the mine. In light of Freeport’s catastrophic practices, the company’s financial partners must distance themselves from Freeport; the Norwegian Government Pension Fund has already taken this step. The Indonesia Human Rights Committee claims Freeport cannot operate the Grasberg Mine without committing human rights violations and irreversible environmental destruction, and therefore calls for the closure of the mine.
Asian Times on the 2011 strike:
The Norwegian Government Pension Fund’s Disinvestment from Freeport:
Report by the NGO Etan:tan.org/news/2008/09freeport.htm