Chair of Indonesian Intellectuals NGO: Freeport makes hugeprofits while local people live in poverty

Chair of Indonesian Intellectuals NGO: Freeport makes hugeprofits while local people live in poverty

Kompas

According to Sutina Made, chairman of ICMI, the Muslim Intellectuals Forum, speaking in South Sulawesi, Freeport Indonesia has brought little benefit for the people of Papua, in particular the people of Mimika, where the copper-and-gold mine is based. The value of the copper and gold exported to the US far exceeds the benefits enjoyed by the Papuan people.

Freeport began its exploitation of copper and gold in April 1967 on the basis of the first contract of work signed in December of that year.

Speaking at the National Conference of ICMI in Makassar, Sutina described in detail the profits earned by the company which he compared with the level of poverty of the Papuan people and suggested that a way should be found to ensure that the benefits of the mine would be enjoyed by the local people. According to available information, 47.99 percent of the people of Papua are living in poverty. In the province of West Papua, 36.85 percent of the population are living below the poverty line, while for the two provinces no less than 45.43 percent are living below the poverty line.

According to available figures, production at the Grasberg mine amounts to 86.2 million ounces, 32.2 million tons of copper and 154.9 million ounces of silver. yet despite this, Papua is one of the poorest regions in Indonesia and the majority of the people living in Mimika are living in poverty.

While the government loses trillions of rupiahs every year, the the company earned Rp 1.27 trillion in 2002 which rose to Rp 1.62 trillion in 2003 and subsequently rose to Rp 9.34 trillion (per annum).

He explained that the US company owns 81.2 percent of the shares in Freeport while the Indonesian government owns only 9.4 percent. When the Contract of Work came to an end in 1997, it was renewed for a further ten years with the option of further renewals, meaning that the company can go on mining the natural resources in Tembagapura until 2041.

Sutina said that Indonesian intellectuals, particularly those in Papua should come up with a solution to ensure that the profits from the natural resources are fairly shared. Under present arrangements, Indonesia has ensured that foreigners are gaining far more benefit from the mining than the people who live in the locality of the mine. It is now time for Papuan intellectuals to pay proper attention to the question of gaining greater benefits from this resource.

'This would ensure that these resources become a source of benefit for the general public with the proceeds going to the state, and as much as possible of these proceeds going to the local people,' he said.