Newmont Mining Corp. Blamed for Sickness and Fish Kills in Indonesia

For nearly a decade, Denver-based Newmont Mining Corp., the world’s biggest gold producer, has dumped treated mine waste directly into Bayat Bay in Indonesia. Fish populations, upon which locals depend economically, have been decimated, and villagers around the bay have suffered a panoply of health problems: skin diseases, rashes, tumor-like bumps, and birth deformities. When an ad hoc clinic examined 60 villagers this year, about 80 percent showed symptoms of mercury and arsenic poisoning, said a doctor at the clinic. The waste-disposal practice used by Newmont in the area is banned in the U.S., and the Indonesian government, environmental groups, and virtually every independent investigator agrees that Newmont has made the bay a toxic soup. The company, however, denies everything. As to the villagers’ claims, Newmont lawyer Palmer Situmorang says, “They are liars because their orientation is to just get money.”