Three Communities Protest at Placer Dome AGM

At Placer Dome’s Annual General Meeting held on April 30th in Toronto, interventions were made by and on behalf of the indigenous Dayak Meratus of Indonesia, the Western Shoshone of Newe Segobia (Nevada, USA), and the people of the Philippine island of Marinduque.

Both the Dayak Meratus and the Western Shoshone feel strongly that Placer Dome’s operating and proposed mines on their lands threaten their environments and their very existence as indigenous peoples. The people of Marinduque are still waiting for Placer Dome to fulfill its promises to clean up the Boac River and compensate affected villagers for a 1996 spill.

Statements were read by Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada on behalf the Dayak Meratus and the Western Shoshone as community representatives were unable to attend.

The Dayak Meratus live in the last remaining native forest in Kalimantan, Indonesia, which has enjoyed protected status since 1928. Placer Dome proposes to build a gold mine in the Meratus Mountain Range Protected Forest, which would violate Forestry Law 41 and would require a special exemption from the Indonesian government. The Dayaks have already made unequivocal statements opposing this mine.

The Western Shoshone have protested the environmental and cultural impacts of Placer Dome/Cortez Joint Venture mines on their land for years. Western Shoshone Elder Carrie Dann and her niece Mary Gibson wrote open letters to the directors and shareholders of Placer Dome regarding the company’s plans to build a new mine called the Pediment Mine, an open-pit cyanide heap leach mine on Mt. Tenabo, the tallest mountain in the Cortez Range and a traditional sacred site and source of food and medicinal plants.

The people of the small Philippine island of Marinduque are suffering the results of almost 30 years of mining by Placer Dome: an ocean bay filled with 200 million tons of mine tailings dumped there over 16 years; two rivers heavily polluted with toxic acid-generating and metal-leaching tailings; and a mine site in the mountains with five hazardous dams and structures, two of which are likely to fail in the near future. After a major mine disaster in 1996 filled the 26-km long Boac River with mine waste, Placer Dome divested from the Marcopper Mining Corporation and eventually left the Philippines. It has not fulfilled its promises to clean up the river and compensate affected villagers. Marinduqueño Ned Santo Domingo read a statement from Marinduque International and the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns.