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Jakarta Post

Freeport investors voice environmental fears over goldmine

  • Jonathan Wootliff

  /   Tue, June 2 2009   /  02:06 pm

One of the world's largest gold, silver and copper mines can be found deep in the heart of one of Indonesia's most remote landscapes. Located in the isolated highland area of West Papua close to Puncak Jaya, the highest mountain in the province, the multibillion-dollar Grasberg mine has more than 8,000 employees and is a major contributor to the economy. Producing more than a quarter of a million tons of ore each day, the crater-like open pit mine measures nearly 2 kilometers across its surface on a site close to 10,000 hectares in size. But the financial value of this massive operation, which represents an estimated 2 percent of Indonesia's entire gross domestic product, appears to come with a large environmental price tag. Every day, hundreds of thousands of tons of slimy residue finds its way into the nearby Aikwa River and Arafura Sea, causing alarm among naturali...