16 July 2010

Is Freeport Mining Uranium in Papua?

There has been talk off the record of this for some time. However, a recent article published in Bintang Papua has brought this out into the open. So, much so that the local government is wanting to start up an investigation. It would seem that the major concern here is not so much the mining itself, but rather the fact that uranium is not one of the minerals or ores that PT Freeport Indonesia, or any of its subsidiaries, is supposed to be extracting from the mineral and ore rich earth of Papua.

The reality is that Freeport has been on sweetheart deals from the outset with consecutive Indonesian governments that have seen the company become incredibly, some might say obscenely, rich at the expense of local Papuans. Another reality is that if Freeport is in fact mining uranium then it would be seemingly doing so in breach of its current work contracts.

This would in very simple terms amount to theft. This breach or theft might not be so easily rectifiable with a payment to silence critics should the local government investigation get off the ground. By secretly mining uranium, Freeport has been avoiding royalties that it would have otherwise had to pay, assuming that a work contract was agreed.

And it is worth noting that uranium is not one of the metals, minerals, or ores that makes an appearance on its logo.

On an environmental note, it is worth noting that uranium is primarily used in nuclear power and weapons development. However, it is difficult to reconcile the idea that Freeport has any serious concerns about the environmental damage that it reeks on the environment or the world. A quick view of the Grasberg operation highlights this extreme lack of concern. The photos here could easily be entitled "Freeport - No Mountain is Too Big!"

Freeport has been a law unto itself almost since its establishment. Initially, this was because Papua was so remote to the rest of Indonesia when Freeport first commenced its operations. Now, because it is considered too important to reign in, and a misguided belief that Indonesia could not afford to enforce legislation that requires foreign companies to sell off stakes to local investors in mining operations nor run it successfully.

The people of Papua deserve better.


Anonymous said...

It's sad that these big greedy mining companies are "robbing" our natural resources and just leave the waste for us to "take care".

A couple of while ago, Danish newspaper made a report about how Danish companies (retirement funds) are supplying tools and materials for these companies and calling the act unethical because these are known to be major polluters.

What's even sadder is that thanks to them, Indonesia is named as one of the countries with severe pollution. It feels like being robbed in daylight and left with trash bags :/

Rob Baiton said...

@ This Indonesian...

I get your point, although I might have used the analogy that the thieves break into your house, empty out your fridge of food and drinks, use your plates and cutlery, and then leave you the washing up.

It is a little more than sad!

H. Nizam said...

Hi Rob,

I like how you and This Indonesia described this matter.

Re: your topic, I believe that there is a possibility Freeport has mined Uranium secretly.

Freeport started in 1967 based on a license to mine Copper. In mid '70s there were rumors saying that it also mined Gold and Diamond. After that Freeport and the govt confirmed this information.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Harry...

Going on past form, if it is there, my guess would be that Freeport is mining it.

The excuse being, "well it is a big mine and it just happened to come out of the ground while we were extracting the copper!"

www.muebles-en-coslada.com said...

The chap is absolutely just, and there is no question.