Indonesian court says detention of Newmont executives was illegal

Section:

From Reuters
Wednesday, December 22, 2004

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=7165399

DENVER -- Newmont Mining Corp. said on Wednesday its gold operations
in Indonesia had released mercury but the toxic emissions were not at
levels harmful to people or the environment.

The statement from the world's biggest gold miner was the latest step
in what has turned into a public relations nightmare for the Denver-
based company.

At one point earlier this year Newmont executives in Indonesia had
been in police custody as a result of allegations that its operations
had polluted the environment.

The statement was also in response to a New York Times article on
Wednesday that said the company had released 33 tons of the toxic
substance.

"While the Times makes this seem like a significant quantity, this
level of emissions complied with all applicable US and Indonesian air
quality regulations," the statement said. Newmont said it would ask a
third party to review the facts.

Company spokesman Doug Hock said 17 tons were released into the
atmosphere and 16 tons into Buyat Bay over a 4-1/2 year period --
below allowed levels.

"At no time did any test or monitoring data show that there were
health impacts to employees or the community as a result of our
operations," Hock said.

He said the company had predicted during the permitting process for
the mine that there would be mercury emissions.

Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said he would seek
clarification from Newmont over the Times article. Indonesia
prosecutors have said they plan to file charges soon over the
allegations about the mercury waste.

In October Newmont said it was vindicated by reports -- one by the
Indonesian government and one by the World Health Organization --
showing Buyat Bay was not polluted.

Hock said Newmont installed a mercury scrubber at its Minahasa
operation in 1997 and 1998.

"While the scrubber did experience some operational issues, emissions
from the plant at no time endangered human health or the
environment," Hock said.

The company had a mercury spill accident near Choropampa, Peru, in
June 2000, and initiated three environmental audits in Peru, Nevada
and Minahasa months later.

Newmont stock closed off 62 cents at $44.73.

* * *

Newmont press release:

http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/041222/law056_1.html

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