Newmont Mining settles with protesters over jobs

Newmont Mining settles with protesters over jobs

Sunday, August 6th 2006

Newmont Mining Corp. said Friday it has settled with Peruvian villagers involved in a one-day demonstration over jobs that was marred by the death of a protester at a mine in the Andes north of Lima.

About 100 residents were involved in Wednesday’s clash with police and employees at the Mineras Yanacocha complex near Combayo about 350 miles north of Lima, Newmont spokesman Randy Engel said. Newmont, one of the world’s largest gold producers, owns about 51 percent of Mineras Yanacocha.

“From what we understand, it was a demand for additional jobs,” Ewngel said.

Ricardo Morel, a Yanacocha spokesman, told The Associated Press in Lima that the protesters said the victim, identified as Isidro Llanos, was shot but police issued a report saying no bullets were fired.

“There was tear gas and some plastic shotgun pellets fired,” Morel said.

The protesters took a mine employee and security guard hostage during the demonstration but both were released unharmed, Morel said. Llanos’ body was taken to the nearby provincial capital, Cajamarca, for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Under the settlement, Yanacocha has agreed to pay for the funeral of the victim and to continue financing community development programs in Combayo, Engel said. Newmont previously allocated $1.5 million for such programs and had no plans to cut funding.

Yanacocha employs about 120 Combayo residents at the mine, Morel said. A meeting is set Monday for company representatives, authorities and Combayo leaders.

“We’re always concerned about any of these events where people protest. We’ve been working since the 2004 event to make sure that we address all the concerns of the community because you never want these types of protests,” he said.

In 2004, thousands of Peruvians spent two weeks blocking an access road to another Newmont project in the same region over concerns about water supplies. Newmont agreed to a study that would determine the effects of exploration efforts.

Newmont also is defending one of its senior executives who is accused of dumping pollutants in a bay off Sulawesi Island, causing villagers to develop skin diseases and other illnesses. And it is dealing with a Uzbekistan tax dispute that is delaying gold shipments out of that country.

Engel said the company tries to keep about half its reserves and production in developed countries with the rest distributed in a handful of developing countries. “If you’re going to be mining, you’re generally going to be in these countries,” he said.

Newmont’s stock closed down 12 cents at $52.27 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.

Newmont has operations in Nevada, Australia, Peru, Indonesia, Canada, Uzbekistan, Bolivia, New Zealand and Mexico.

Associated Press

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