INDONESIA – The South Jakarta District Court has dismissed a US$133-million lawsuit alleging NEWMONT MINING CORP.’s responsibility for environmental damage from its now-closed mine in Sulawesi Province. The judge declared that the court has no authority over the case because of a clause (which stipulates disputes shall be settled by arbitration) in the contract signed between the country and Newmont. Further, the judge said that the Indonesian environment minister who filed the case had no authority to represent the government in the case.
This is a clear victory for Newmont, although an appeal is possible. The ruling recognizes that contracts signed between the Indonesian government and foreign investors are binding.
Newmont (www.Newmont.com) is still negotiating with the Indonesian government over a civil suit arising from the same accusations. Meanwhile, Newmont’s top local executive, Richard Ness, is being tried on criminal charges that he did nothing to mitigate the environmental problem; he could face 10 years in jail.