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Amungme against Freeport-McMoRan, Indonesia

Freeport-McMoran's Grasberg Mine has devastated local indigenous groups ever since the project started a month after a military coup in 1965. Military and guards routinely harass and violently oppress locals.


Freeport became interested in West Papua in the 1950s, and in 1965, negotiations between Freeport and Indonesia began one month after a military coup and widespread massacres brought General Suharto to power. Freeport was the first foreign corporation to sign a deal with Suharto's regime. The 1967 agreement gave the company broad powers over the local population and resources, including the right to take, on a tax-free basis, land, timber, water, and other natural resources, and to resettle indigenous inhabitants while providing reasonable compensation only for dwellings find permanent improvements. Under the new Indonesian regime, the indigenous population had no rights of refusal or of informed consent, nor any right to adequate compensation. A sign of the times, no social or environmental impact assessment was done.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Amungme against Freeport-McMoRan, Indonesia
State or province:West Papua
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Freeport began open-pit mining of the Grasberg ore body in 1990. Open-pit operations are expected to continue through 2015, at which time the Grasberg underground mining operations are scheduled to begin. Production is currently at the 3,295-to 4,285-m elevation level and totaled 49.0 million metric tons of ore in 2008 and 57.5 million metric tons of ore in 2007.

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Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/1996
Company names or state enterprises:Freeport-McMoRan from United States of America
PT Freeport Indonesia from Indonesia
Rio Tinto (Rio Tinto ) from United Kingdom - Entered in 1995 and owns 40% of the Grasberg mine
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Earthrights International, Cultural Survival, WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), Yahamak, Kulalok
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths, Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The US district court dismissed the case in 1998 on the basis that the environmental and human rights abuses alleged by Beanal were not violations of the 'law of nations'. Beanal appealed this ruling, but the court of appeals affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the case in 1999. In the Louisiana state court case, Alomang alleged that Freeport had engaged in human rights and environmental violations through its corporate policies and conduct at its Grasberg mine in West Papua. She claimed relief under Louisiana state tort law. Alomang's case was dismissed by the state court in 2000 for failure to state an actionable claim against Freeport.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Alien Tort Statute (US)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Links provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
[click to view]

[2] Global Studies Quarterly. Voices in the Background: Environmental Degradation and Climate Change as Driving Forces of Violence Against Indigenous Women (Csevár 2021)
[click to view]

[3] Down the Earth. Yosepha Alomang - a Papuan woman fighting for human and environmental rights (2004)
[click to view]

[4] Sacred Land Project. West Papua Highlands (2007)
[click to view]

[5] Mining Magazine. Freeport-McMoran ramps up Grasberg, nearly doubles copper-gold production (Jacobsen 2021)
[click to view]

Faith Based Network - West Papua
[click to view]

Technical details about the Grasberg mine
[click to view]

Eco-action fact sheet
[click to view]

Brief Of Amici Curiae

(1) Cultural Survival
[click to view]

Sierra Club And Earthrights International
[click to view]

Cultural Survival
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Irene Pietropaoli, updated by Dalena Tran
Last update15/02/2022
Conflict ID:1165
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