2 Mar 2006

Papua MPs vow to heed demands of mine protesters

9:40 am on 2 March 2006

Regional MPs in the Indonesian province of Papua have promised to follow up on demands by people calling for the closure of the world's largest gold mine, Freeport.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that this follows days of protests in Jakarta and Jayapura in the wake of a four-day blockade last week at the Freeport mine.

The protesters, who are mostly students, wanted to be able to look through the mine waste for valuable lumps of ore.

Following a 24-hour sit-in at Papua's provincial parliament, some legislators endorsed the protesters' demands and promised to pursue them with Jakarta.

One legislator, Hana Hikoyabi, says the contract between Freeport and the Indonesia Government is secretive, and that the protests are an accumulation of years of disappointment.

The US-owned mine is said to be Indonesia's biggest revenue earner but is under pressure over its relationship with the Indonesian military after recent revelations that Freeport made direct payments to soldiers who guard the mine.