Mining Giant Freeport McMoran Sued For $30 Billion For Stealing Indonesians' Ancestral Land

papua indonesia mine mining human rights freeport

How’s this for claimed damages: $30 billion.

That’s what lawyers allegedly representing an Indonesian tribe are asking for from Phoenix-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) for environmental and human rights violations in a recent lawsuit.

Freeport isn’t buying it, saying “Previous lawsuits against Freeport making similar baseless environmental and human rights claims have been dismissed in both Indonesian and United States courts due to the inability of the plaintiffs to present facts to support their baseless allegations.”

Here’s the full story:

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Lawyers claiming to represent an Indonesian tribe have filed a lawsuit against U.S. mining company Freeport, demanding $30 billion in damages for unspecified environmental and human rights violations, court officials and a media report said Friday.

Freeport declined to comment directly on the suit, but its e-mailed statement said previous petitions making “similar baseless and human rights claims have been dismissed in both Indonesian and United States courts due to the inability of the plaintiffs to present facts to support their allegations.”

Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. operates the world’s largest gold mine in the eastern Indonesia region of Papua.

The Freeport mine has frequently been targeted by rights groups and environmental campaigners who variously claim it is stealing the region’s wealth, evicting local people from ancestral lands and polluting the environment. It is also regularly the focus of protests by local residents, and has been targeted with arson, roadside bombs and blockades since production began in the 1970s.

The company has also been criticised for paying Indonesian security forces to guard the mine.

Last month, a series of ambushes close to the Freeport mine left three people dead. Police have made several arrests but have not publicly speculated on a motive.

Lawyers claiming to represent the Amungme tribe, which lives close to the mine, filed the suit Thursday in the South Jakarta District Court, Judge Suharto said.

As is customary in the Indonesian legal system, Suharto, who goes by a single name, said he delayed hearing the case for 40 days to give both parties time to negotiate a settlement.

He decline to give any more details on the suit, which was not read out in court, he said.

The Jakarta Globe newspaper said the lawyers were seeking $30 billion in damages to compensate for unspecified environmental and human rights violations.

Freeport, one of the largest taxpayers in Indonesia, said in its statement it had given some $27 million to the Amungme and Kamoro tribes since 1974 and funded scores of development projects.

The company this month reported second-quarter net income of $588 million.

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