Buyat Bay : Newmont’s Case

Topics: Environmental impact assessment, Buyat Bay, Mining Pages: 6 (1938 words) Published: October 10, 2008
PT Newmont Minahasa Raya (NMR) is a joint venture company between Newmont Gold Company (USA), which owns 80 percent of the shares, and PT Tanjung Serapung (Indonesia) holding 20 percent. PT. NMR is located in South East Minahasa, some 80 km south of Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi. PTNMR operated an open pit mine from 1996 and ceased operations in 2001 after the deposit was recovered . They started producing gold in 1996 and began dispose their whole tailings through the pipe into Buyat Bay. In 2004, the Newmont Minahasa Raya gold mine began closing down its operations in North Sulawesi leaving local communities in Buyat Bay and Ratatotok with a long lasting environmental damage, economic decline, and a huge of health problems.

Environmental Issue
Since the beginning of their project development in early 1993, NMR has tried to convince to the local public communities that their standard practices and operation would be environmentally saved and has been practically & widely carried out around the world of mining. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted by NMR to support their future project but the effectiveness was questionable. Mean while the design stage and during project implementation was carried out differently against the EIA.

Tailing dumping
What local communities worried about have aroused after the operation of NMR. As commonly practiced in gold mining operation, tailing as dangerous materials left over after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the worthless fraction of an ore , should have been disposed to beneath of the sea, under the thermocline layer. But in fact, in Newmont ‘s case, as many as 2000 tons/day of tailings were piped by NMR to the bottom of the Buyat Bay in 82 metres, far enough as many scientist argued . Coastal dumping of tailings is a grave ecological concern because coastal waters are biologically the richest parts of the oceans, and because many open-ocean species depend on coastal habitat for part of their life cycle. Later on, the negative impact were clear shown by the die of several fish on the beginning of 1996 until 1997 . Despite of the prior evidences, NMR denied all of that and said that the negative impact were not the result of its tailings dumping.

Poisoning The Water
The impact of Newmont operation was having the water polluted by arsenic. Newmont already knew about the water quality that was far beyond as regulated to the water quality standard and consciuously (or consciuously ...?) supplied the water to the people of two villages, Buyat and Ratatotok. Newmont argued that the standard has properly applied. But people said, Newmont was applying older standard rather the new one. Since this activities will endanger the human’s health and can be classified as against the law . Drinking water rich in arsenic over a long period leads to arsenic poisoning or arsenicosis. Arsenicosis is the effect of arsenic poisoning, usually over a long period such as from 5 to 20 years. Drinking arsenic-rich water over a long period results in various health effects including skin problems (such as colour changes on the skin, and hard patches on the palms and soles of the feet), skin cancer, cancers of the bladder, kidney and lung, and diseases of the blood vessels of the legs and feet, and possibly also diabetes, high blood pressure and reproductive disorders .

Mercury in Air Pollutant
As reported by P. Raja Siregar (2006), Newmont was conducting several dangerous operation on their process. It was indicated from the hot gas exhausted from its chimney. The exhaust gas was dark enough and it mean that the particulate concentration was high enough to pollute the Buyat’s air. Later on, it was reported by New York Times on December 2004 with title “Mining Giant told It Put Toxic Vapours Into Indonesia’s Air” . The newspaper said around 17 tonnes of mercury were released to the air for 4 years. But the Newmont executives said...

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