DENVER, Colorado - APRIL 25 - Friends of the Earth International and
local communities from Peru, Ghana and Indonesia demand that US-based
mining giant Newmont stop poisoning the drinking water around its mining
Representatives from Peru and Ghana will bring this message to Newmont
CEO Wayne Murdy during the company’s shareholder meeting today in
Denver, Colorado (US).
In Choropampa in Peru 400 people were hospitalized after mercury, a
toxic metal and mining by-product, was spilled in the environment near a
Newmont gold mine in 2000. The company did not agree to local demands
for an independent health impact study. At La Apalina, the company
closed an irrigation channel that is crucial for the survival of local
farmers. “Water is the source of life. To deprive poorest people of this
right so that a few people can get rich, is one of the gravest sins that
Newmont is committing in the Northern Andes of Peru,” says Father Marco
Arana of the Peruvian organization Grufides.
In Indonesia, the Ministry of Environment commissioned an investigation
about pollution around a Newmont mine in the Buyat Bay area in 2004.
Drinking water for the local community contained up to three times the
legally allowed amount of mercury, a toxic metal and mining by-product,
and the amount of arsenic, which is also toxic, exceeded legal norms.
High concentrations of mercury and arsenic were detected in the Buyat
Bay seabed. Health problems such as skin diseases, tumors and birth
defects have become more and more frequent. In August 2004, 23 people
were hospitalized and had to undergo surgery.
Newmont’s operations in Ahafo, even at the construction stages, have
impacted negatively on water availability in the area. “The construction
of a dam on river Subri has deprived many communities of access to
drinking water and for water-based livelihoods. The dam has left the
river Subri almost dead and the disposal of fecal matter into river
Asuopre has rendered it unsafe for use by communities.” says Daniel
Owusu-Koranteng of the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by
Mining (WACAM) in Ghana. The water situation of the communities is
expected to worsen when Newmont starts its mining operations.
Newmont refused to address many complaints by locals in the cases
mentioned above but also in other countries. Demands for independent
research were ignored and promises made at last year’s shareholder
meeting have been broken. The company merely responds with Public
Relations activities to explain how environmentally friendly its
operations supposedly are.
Friends of the Earth International, the Indigenous Support Network and
the Fourth World Centre for Indigenous Law and Politics (both from the
University of Colorado in Denver) have invited Mr. Daniel
Owusu-Koranteng, from WACAM in Ghana, and Father Marco Arana, from
Grufides in Peru, to Denver where they presented the impacts mining on
indigenous people in their countries at the conference "The Real Price
of Gold?" on April 24, 2006.
On April 25, they will attend the Newmont shareholder meeting and meet
Newmont officials. They will ask Newmont to stop poisoning drinking
water and stress the need for independent research and monitoring of
Newmont’s performance in guaranteeing water quality around its
‘These examples show that local communities around the world are not
properly protected against companies like Newmont and their destructive
mining activities. Local people are often negatively affected and most
of the time they don’t want giant mining operations in the first place.
Affected people need to get better rights to protect their environment
and their health. If needed, they must be able to take a company like
Newmont to court in the US for crimes committed in other parts of the
world,” says Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth International
A reduction of mining globally is needed to ensure a sustainable
livelihood for local communities and a sustainable use of natural
resources. Worst practices should be immediate halted, especially
cyanide heap leach gold mining and submarine and riverine tailings