NZ Superannuation withdraws investment in Freeport mine for ethical reasons

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has withdrawn its investment of $1 million in Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold over allegations of human rights offences committed by security forces around the company’s controversial Grasberg mine in Papua.

According to Papua New Guinea Mine Watch (PNMW) Freeport has been directly or indirectly responsible for gross human rights abuses in West Papua since it was first granted a highly favourable contract to exploit gold and copper in the days of the Suharto dictatorship.

These abuses include torture, illegal detentions, and killings.

Freeport has given $79.1 million to police and military forces in the past 10 years, according to a group called Indonesian Corruption Watch.  Most of that funding has been through in-kind contributions such as food, housing, fuel, and travel costs, but officers have also received direct payments. A report by the NGO Global Witness shows that, between 2001 and 2003, Freeport gave nearly $250,000 to a controversial commander who in 1999 led military action in East Timor, where soldiers killed more than a thousand people.

According to Rev Socrates Yoman, a leading human rights advocate, Freeport is like an ATM for the security forces – when there is conflict they can be sure of money.

It is alleged that the mine has destroyed a mountain considered sacred by the indigenous Amungme people and displaced thousands, destroying their forest-based subsistence lifestyle in the process.

PNMW says Freeport uses a system for disposing of the mine waste tailings in the river – outlawed almost everywhere else in the world.   Over 200,000 tonnes of waste a day are deposited in the river leading to the creation of vast dead zone where nothing grows.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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