The mining thread at this blog has been dominated by the Buyat Bay saga; the alleged deliberate pollution of the bay, fishing village and its fringing coral reef in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, by US mining giant Newmont and in particular its Indonesian boss Richard Ness.
I attended the verdict in the criminal trial of Mr Ness earlier this year. He was acquitted of all charges.
National environment group WALHI brought a civil suit against Newmont about a month before that verdict was due to be handed down. On Tuesday December 18, 2007 the South Jakarta District Court of Indonesia cleared Newmont of any environmental wrongdoing at Buyat Bay, dismissing the civil suit. A spokesperson for Newmont commented that, “We hope this second exoneration by yet another Indonesian court will put to rest – once and for all – the hoax that Buyat Bay is polluted.”
An opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal included comment that, “Accusations against business folks these days get a lot more publicity than acquittals do, so we thought we’d let you know about a victory for a U.S. mining company facing bogus charges that it was responsible for killing poor villagers in Indonesia. The case was promoted by environmentalists and hyped with a 2,600-word page-one article in the New York Times in 2004.”
The same week Newmont was cleared in Jakarta, Rick Ness announced his retirement. My best wishes to Rick and Nova for life after Newmont.
You can read more about the Buyat Bay Saga at his son Eric’s website: http://www.richardness.org.