11 Aug 2009

US mining giant Freeport McMoRan criticizes lawsuit by Papuan group

10:37 am on 11 August 2009

US mining giant Freeport McMoRan has criticized a lawsuit filed by Papua's Amungme people, who are seeking 30 billion US dollars in damages over the company's 40-year mining operation in the region, saying the action lacks legal credibility.

The company tells the Jakarta Globe that previous lawsuits against Freeport making similar baseless environmental and human rights claims have been dismissed in both Indonesian and United States courts due to the inability of the plaintiffs to present facts to support their allegations.

The statement came after lawyers for the Amungme attended the South Jakarta District Court on Thursday to present their demands: compensation for the loss of their land and environmental devastation.

The plaintiffs said PT Freeport Indonesia, the local unit of US-based Freeport, with the help of government troops had forced the eviction of the Amungme when it started to build the infrastructure for the mine, and that the 1967 work contract that granted land concessions for Freeport was made without the approval of tribal communities in the area.

These claims were immediately denied by the company.

The miner claimed it had established land rights trust funds in 2001 for the Amungme and Kamoro tribes and contributed $27 million to those funds through 2008, with a plan to make contributions of $1 million annually.