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Indonesian misadventure: A US mining giant's clash

Freeport graphic

Volume 3, Issue 2

November, 1996

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Press, Eyal (1996). Indonesian misadventure: A mining giant's clash. Pacific Journalism Review, 3(2): 123-131.
Author(s): Eyal Press
Publication date: 
November, 1996

West Papuan tribesmen take on the operations of Freeport McMoran, the company that runs the world's largest goldmine and third-largest copper mine. The lessons for Papua New Guinea's resource developers are sobering. The three-day rebellion began after a vehicle driven by a Freeport employee accidentally struck a local tribesman, Wilenus Kogoya. Rumors spread that the man had been killed, whereupon hundreds of indigenous people armed with sticks, spears, and knives began attacking Freeport facilities, ransacking buildings, breaking windows, damaging an environmental lab and scores of company offices and homes. They eventually forced the temporary closure of both the mine in Tembagapura, and the local airport in neighboring Timika, where rioters rushed to meet the incoming plane of Freeport chief executive officer James Robert ("Jim Bob") Moffett.