29 December 2011

Freeport Link to Latest Anti-Mine Violence in Indonesia

A man who was seriously wounded during an anti-mining protest that turned deadly in Sape, West Nusa Tenggara, is taken for medical care on Saturday. (Antara Photo)

The Australian government has confirmed that it is aware of the shooting deaths of two Indonesians during a protest against the exploration activities of an Australian resources company on Sumbawa island over the weekend.

“The Australian Government is always concerned to see loss of life and injury,” said a spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in a statement obtained by the Jakarta Globe. “We note that Indonesian authorities have ordered an investigation into the incident.”

At least two people were killed at Sape port in West Nusa Tenggara on Christmas Eve during a protest opposing the opening of a local gold mine project between an Indonesian company and an Australian company with ties to Freeport.

Australia’s Arc Exploration and Indonesia’s Sumber Mineral Nusantara were granted an exploration permit by officials to the outrage of locals who claim they fear the mine’s potential ecological damage and impact.

According to Arc Exploration’s Web site, a member of the board of directors is linked to Freeport Indonesia.

George Tahija, the president director of Arc Exploration in Indonesia, is also a commissioner of Freeport Indonesia, which operates the giant Grasberg Mine in Papua.

An Arc Exploration office in Jakarta could not be contacted on Tuesday.

The Australian Broadcasting Company stated that Arc Exploration reported the deaths to the stock exchange and a company spokesperson said shareholders would be informed of the incident after the Australian Securities Exchange re-opens following the holiday.

Protests in June had also delayed exploration.

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