Newmont Wins Civil Suit in Jakarta, Rick Ness Retires

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:

4 Responses to Newmont Wins Civil Suit in Jakarta, Rick Ness Retires

  1. Schiller Thurkettle December 29, 2007 at 8:59 am #

    environmentalists… bogus… hoax… This Green legacy may eventually threaten attire on St. Paddy’s day, due to assaults on those ‘wearin’ th’ Green.’

  2. chrisgo December 29, 2007 at 7:11 pm #

    A case of malicious prosecution perhaps?

  3. cinders December 31, 2007 at 9:19 am #

    This is an amazing story of environmental NGOs and the media (NY Times Sept 2004) making outrageous allegations that are finally rejected years later. In the mean time individuals and businesses are vilified as “environmental destroyers.”

    It is perhaps pure coincidence that as the Buyat Bay saga is resolved in Indonesia that at the Southern end of Australia, at Recherche Bay, the truth has finally come out about private land that was also subject to outrageous claims of ENGOs and the Media.

    In October 2003 the ABC gave national prominence to a campaign to stop sustainable timber harvesting of regrowth forests. The ABC reported that the area had been visited by a French expedition in 1792 and 1793; and that the only way to stop the logging would be to find archaeological evidence on the private land. The best chance seemed to be the vegetable garden clearly marked ‘Jardin’ on the French map.

    It was hardly surprising that local activist Helen Gee found a stone walled garden on the private land. Helen Gee was one of the founding members of the Wilderness Society, She was a councillor with the Australian Conservation Foundation, campaign officer for the Tasmanian National Parks Association, convenor of the South East Forest Protection Group and of the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee.

    Despite the ‘garden’ that was found being in the wrong location, this fact did not stop the politicians and even the ‘scientists’.

    Senator Bob Brown, a Greens Party Senator in Federal Parliament said “I will stand here in the way of the bulldozers”.

    Dr Edward Duyker was quoted by the ABC “Well I think it’s an obscenity. It’s just an obscenity.”

    Even one of Australia’s best-known archaeologists John Mulvaney, demanded the preservation of the private land but added to the reasons in addition to the garden, the contact between the Aborigines and the French. He claimed that 25% of our knowledge of pre-European Aborigines comes from this little area.

    Now four years later, and after countless protests and media reports, millionaire Dick Smith getting involved and forking out almost $2 million to “save” the garden, we find that a French archeological team has proved beyond doubt that the ‘garden’ that was found had nothing at all to do with the French visit.

    The archaeological report is available at yet the French maps of the ‘garden’ were known way back in 2003 and even Duyker himself cast doubt on the garden’s location in another contemporary media interview.

    For those concerned about the aboriginal connection, the most likely location of this interaction was on land that has been owned by the Government and managed as a conservation area, and not on what was the private land.

    Like Buyat Bay the truth finally gets out, but with no thanks to ‘independent’ investigative media reporting.

  4. Helen Mahar December 31, 2007 at 1:57 pm #

    It is pleasing to see the Indonesian court system performing objectively.

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