The Grasberg mine, located in the indonesian province of Papua, on the island New Guinea, just north of Australia, is being run by the mining company Freeport McMoran. The Grasberg mine is the biggest goldmine and the third biggest coppermine in the world.
New Guinea is known for its biologically diverse ecosystems and endemic species but it also has great cultural value. In the western part of the island, in the Indonesian province Papua, 1.5 million of the 2.5 million people are indigenous peoples speaking more than 250 different languages.
But the area is not only known for its cultural and natural wonders. It is also one of the last places on earth where companies still use a very controversial mining technique; the 'riverine tailings disposal'. This technique, which involves dumping toxic rubble in riversystems, is used by Freeport McMoran at the Grasberg mine.
Friends of the earth Indonesia (Wahli) recommends in its latest report 'The environmental impacts of Freeport-Rio Tinto's Copper and Gold Mining Operation in Papua' the following to the Indonesian government:
"Immediately enforce national environmental law. This should be done by halting Freeport-Rio Tinto operations until breaches are remedied, and prosecuting legal breaches which continue today despite warnings in the early 2000s. In particular:
- Dissolved copper and suspended solids (TSS) entering the Ajkwa Estuary must not breach water quality limits for class II of the Water Quality Regulations (2001).
- Acid Rock Drainage must be immediately prevented from entering into surface and ground waters at levels which breach water quality limits for heavy metals and acidity class II of the Water Quality Regulations (2001).
- Undertake its own thorough and regular sampling, instead of relying on company reports, and make all environmental information public according to the Environment Law (1997).
- Re-examine tax and royalty arrangements to improve benefits for affected communities, Papua province, and compensate for environmental damage created so far.
- Establish an Independent Panel to define several scenarios for the future of the Freeport mine, including closure date, processing, and waste management, then to commission a detailed, independent, social and technical review of these scenarios. The review should be used as the basis of an informed discussion by local people and other stakeholders on the future of the mine."
For more detailed information see also the report 'bank secrets' by Netwerk Vlaanderen.