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Indonesia tribe sues US mining company for environmental and rights abuses

[JURIST] An indigenous tribe in Indonesia on Thursday filed a $30 million lawsuit against a subsidiary of US mining company Freeport-McRoRan Copper & Gold [corporate website] for numerous environmental and human rights violations. The Amungme people are suing PT Freeport [corporate website, in Indonesian] for damages to their ancestral lands [Jakarta Globe report] in the Papua province, claiming that they are the rightful owners of the 2.6 million hectares on which the mine is located because the 1967 contract between the Indonesian government and Freeport was executed without their approval. The plaintiffs also allege that they were promised an annual fee of $1 million that was never received. Also named as defendants are the Indonesian government and PT Indocopper Investama, an investment company with a stake in Freeport. The South Jakarta District Court appointed a judge to seek a mediated settlement between the parties.

Freeport's Indonesian facility is the world's largest gold mine. It has been a frequent target [AP report] of environmental and human rights groups. The mine has been the site of several recent violent attacks. Last month, charges were filed [NYT report] against two mine employees after a series of ambushes and attacks left three dead and several others wounded.

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