Newmont in court in Indonesia

In the trial over the alleged pollution of Buyat Bay, Newmont Mining executive Richard Ness has called on the Indonesian Government to hold accountable those who have used erroneous and misleading science to accuse PT Newmont Minahasa Raya of environmental wrongdoing. If Newmont does indeed prove to be innocent in this case, it will highlight once again the need for controls to stop anti-mining groups wasting public time and money.

After waiting for a year, Ness took the witness stand on September 1 in the Indonesian District Court of Manado. Ness proclaimed his and Newmont’s innocence in the trial taking place on the Indonesian island of North Sulawesi. He noted that testimony given by nearly all witnesses had proven that Buyat Bay has never been polluted, and that the charges never had any basis in fact or science.

As President Director of PT Newmont Minahasa Raya, Ness demonstrated that Newmont, with government approval, had obtained and complied with all necessary permits. Ness testified that Newmont had abided by all environmental regulations and requirements. He also discredited accusations of pollution by showing the court how the mine had discharged far fewer metals than were allowed under the permits granted by the Indonesian authorities. Over eight years of operations, the mine discharged less than half of total tailings allowed by the permit.

Ness challenged the Ministry of Environment’s 2004 Technical Team report which formed the basis for some of the indictments against him and the Company. Ness also described how multiple witnesses over the course of the trial had repeatedly relied on flawed scientific evidence in the report, including references to fictitious standards, embellished fish population studies and discredited methodologies. Ness called on the Indonesian Government to hold accountable those who used a government appointed body to publish incorrect and misleading data in an effort to target the mining company.

After the trial, the lead lawyer for Newmont’s defense, Luhut Pangaribuan said, "It is clear that there is no legal basis for any of the indictments against Richard Ness and PTNMR, for one simple reason: there was never any criminal wrongdoing. The facts of the case and all of the witnesses who testified before the court have shown that there is no pollution in Buyat Bay."

Ness was equally adamant, saying, "I believe it has been proven in court that there is absolutely no evidence to support the allegations in the indictments. However, we will continue to respect the ongoing legal process in Indonesia. The last two years have been very hard for me and my family and we look forward to being proven innocent in court very soon."

In Denver, USA, Senior Vice President for Operations Tom Enos said, "All the facts have now been submitted and the evidence clearly shows that these charges were false from the beginning. Rick Ness is an innocent man who has endured a two-year nightmare. He deserves to be exonerated as quickly as possible."