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Indonesia Settles Civil Pollution Suit with Newmont Mining Corporation

  • Nancy-Amelia Collins

The Indonesian government and U.S. mining giant Newmont have reached an out-of-court settlement over a pollution case filed in a civil court alleging the company dumped toxic waste into a bay.

Newmont Mining Corporation agreed Thursday to pay $30 million as part of an agreement with the Indonesian government to end the civil case against the company.

Robert Gallagher, vice president for Indonesia and Australia operations at Newmont, says the company will pay the compensation over 10 years to fund environmental monitoring and community projects in the area surrounding the now defunct mine.

"It's actually a goodwill agreement between Newmont, the government, and the communities surrounding our mine in Northern Sulawesi, and we're going to fund continued monitoring of the environment in the area to continue to reassure the residents of the areas there is no pollution. And we're going to provide funding for continuation of the programs that were initiated during the operation of the mine," said Gallagher.

The Indonesian government claims Newmont violated environmental laws by dumping millions of tons of mercury and arsenic into Buyat Bay in the eastern province of Sulawesi, killing fish and causing villagers to become sick.

The Indonesian government filed the civil case last year, demanding more than $133 million in damages.

A separate criminal case is still being heard against Richard Ness, the American head of the company's Indonesian subsidiary, Newmont Minihasa Raya. Ness is being held liable for the alleged pollution. A verdict is expected later this year.

Government officials say Thursday's agreement in the civil suit will have no impact on the ongoing criminal trial.

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