31 Oct 2005

Papua goldmine shareholder concerned about Indonesian troop link

7:47 am on 31 October 2005

A powerful shareholder in the world's biggest gold mine, Freeport, says it's troubled by the company's link with the Indonesian military in Papua province.

The New York City Pension Fund Trustees say Freeport's payments to the Indonesian military seem to be more extensive and more questionable than previously known.

The New York City Comptroller, William Thompson, says the trustees are particularly troubled by Freeport's continued elusive responses to inquiries into its relationship with the Indonesian military.

Freeport has been accused of paying a quarter of a million US dollars to the former Papua military chief, General Mahidin Simbolon - a man who's accused of ordering human rights abuses against ethnic Papuans.

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

The New York City Pension Funds, owns a stake in Freeport worth roughly 19 million US dollars.

The group says it will resubmit a proposal which asks other shareholders to force the company to review its links with the Indonesian military.