Vote Freeport McMoRan for 2012’s worst corporation on earth
By Nick Magel
January 19, 2012
Update: Here is Freeport-McMoRan's recent response to being nominated. Needless to say, Freeport-McMoRan’s reality in West Papua hardly lines up with the words in this form letter. In fact, they directly contradict them.
Is Freeport-McMoRan the worst corporation in the world?
If communities in West Papua, Indonesia had anything to say about it Freeport-McMoRan would certainly be named the worst corporation in the world. Now you can help get Freeport-McMoRan listed as 2012’s worst corporation in the world.
Every year the Public Eye Award is given to the world worst corporation on earth. Previous winners include;
- Chevron, for their oil disaster in Ecuador;
- Newmont for their irresponsible mining and pollution in Ghana and Peru; and
- AngloGold Ashanti, for it’s contamination of land and poisoning of people with its gold mining in Ghana.
This year Freeport-McMoRan joins this shameful group as a finalist for the “award”.
Why should you vote for Freeport?
Freeport-McMoRan’s Grasberg mine – the largest gold mine on earth – has generated significant controversy because of its waste disposal methods, impacts on a sensitive ecosystem, lack of transparency, and conflicts with communities around human rights and other issues. The mine generates a staggering amount of waste—700,000 tons per day—and it is estimated that the mine will produce 6 to 7 billion tons of waste in its lifetime. This may well be the largest volume of waste produced by any single industrial activity in the world.
To protect its massive operations in West Papua, Freeport-McMoRan has given $79.1 million to police and military forces in the past 10 years, according to the group Indonesian Corruption Watch (the same group, ICW, is now reporting Freeport-McMoRan to the US Dept. of Justice under bribery charges). The Indonesian police and military – both of which have a very poor human rights record – have violently protected Freeport McMoRan’s interest in the area for years. According to community records, 160 people were killed in the mine area and surroundings between 1975 and 1997.Recently, the violence has continued.
Workers at the Grasberg mine went on strike in September, claiming they were Freeport McMoRan’s lowest-paid employees in the world. Ten people have been killed during and after the strike, further illustrating the mining company’s complicity in violent oppression of workers and community members at the hands of the military and police protecting mining interests and operations in the region.
The three month strike involving more than 8,000 workers had been settled in late December, but early this year the threat of another strike loomed as the workers' union recently said that several of Freeport's subcontractors had not paid more than 900 employees at the mine.
Freeport McMoRan’s Grasberg mine in West Papua is rife with major human rights and environmental problems. Earthworks “Golden Rules” report lays out a few of these problems in simple terms:
- Providing financial support to police and military forces, which each have a history of human rights violations
- Dumping millions of tons of mining waste into the river, destroying an important estuary at the river’s mouth
- Harming the health and livelihoods of people living downstream who depend on river water
The Golden Rules report goes on to recommend that Freeport-McMoRan and other mining companies implement policies to ensure that the mining operation and its security forces do not continue to perpetrate human rights violations or operate against the community’s wishes.
Seems Freeport-McMoRan has a long way to go to meet this recommendation. Precisely why we are voting for them as 2012’s worst corporation on earth.
For more information:
The Austin Chronicle’s excellent 2005 series on Freeport (Freeport's been bad not just recently, but over the long haul):
- Freeport at Grasberg: ‘devastated a river system‘
- Freeport at Grasberg: a report on the mine
- Freeport and Grasberg: a chronology
- Freeport and Grasberg: written in stone