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West Papuan Refugee Confronts Rio Tinto AGM

West Papuan Refugee Confronts Rio Tinto AGM

Rio Tinto shareholders were forced to debate the impact of the controversial Freeport mine today, after a West Papuan refugee attended the Annual General Meeting.

Herman Wanggai, spokesperson for the 43 West Papuans, recently given refugee visas by the Department of Immigration, spoke at the meeting as a proxy shareholder.

The Freeport mine has been the subject of widespread protests in West Papua and Indonesian because of its environmental and human rights record. Rio Tinto holds a 40% investment in Freeport’s Grasberg deposit in West Papua.

“Freeport is contributing to the suffering in West Papua because it funds the Indonesian government and military”, Wanggai told the meeting.

“You can’t separate what the mine is doing from the political situation in West Papua. It is directly linked to the human rights problems.”

Claims about the environmental impact of tailings released into the river system were also raised following the release of a report into the mine this week by Indonesian environmental NGO WALHI.

“Rio’s defence of riverine tailings disposal at Freeport as ‘world’s best practice’ is outrageous.” Minerals Policy Institute Executive Director Techa Beaumont said today.

“Freeport must clean up its act.”

Chairman Paul Skinner also refused to answer questions on when the mine would stop breaching Indonesia’s environmental regulations.

© Scoop Media

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