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Walhi protests environment awards for Newmont, Nusa Halmahera

The Indonesian Environmental Forum, Walhi, is sending a letter of objection to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources over the presentation of environment awards to PT Newmont Nusa Tengara and PT Nusa Halmahera Mineral.

The letter which was signed by Walhi executive director Berry Nahdian Forqan was addressed to Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Darwin Zahedy Saleh.

Walhi had objected to the decision of the ministry to present Aditama (for environment management) awards to Newmont Nusa Tenggara (NNT) and Nusa Halmahera Mineral (NHM) because they were considered to have been successful in waste management.

Wahli asked the ministry to repeal its decision. It said that PTNNT did not deserve the award because it was still dumping some 140,000 tons of wastes (tailings) into the sea, a practice that was damaging the environment.

The volume of waste NNT was disposing into the Senunu Bay was 21 times that of Jakarta city.

The other reason for Walhi’s objection was that based on a documentary interview in the middle of 2011, fishermen at Senunu Bay complained that their catches had dropped drastically since the firm discharged its tailings into the bay.

In the meantime, the environment forum also objected to the award given to PTNHM because its pipe for tailings leaked on February 3, 2011. As a result it was predicted that it had dumped a total of 361 tons of waste materials.

Walhi office for North Maluku has noted that the Kobok River had been contaminated since 2000 as a result of the firm’s mining activities. Before the activities, the river’s water was consumed by local residents.

However, over the last two years the water is no longer consumable.

“The extension of the award is a form of protection and defense for the firms’ act of contaminating the sea,” Walhi’s campaign activist Pius Ginting said.

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