20 Oct 2005

Indonesian goldmine responds to first independent audit on human rights

4:33 pm on 20 October 2005

The management of the world's largest gold mine - Freeport in the Indonesian province of Papua - has just responded to its first independent audit report on human rights.

The US-based company, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, has promised to foster human rights and help the social development of Papuan people living near its giant mine in the highlands region.

Freeport says none of its employees or Indonesian troops protecting the mine have been involved in any reported human rights abuses.

A former Papua military chief General Mahidin Simbolon has been accused of human rights abuses, and rights groups had said Freeport had paid the general a quarter of a million US dollars.

Freeport says it doesn't follow official rules and use Indonesian military drivers because of what it calls the challenging road conditions around the mine.

A Papuan separatist rebel has been accused of killing two US teachers and an Indonesian colleague in a vehicle ambush near the mine in 2002.

The company says it's exceeded targets of quadrupling the number of Papuan employees.