Mon, 09 Oct 2000

Residents block marble mine

MAUMERE, East Nusa Tenggara: At least 100 residents of Netpala village, Molo Utara in the Timor Tengah Selatan regency here blocked a marble mine on Saturday in an effort to force the mining company, PT Karya Asta Alam, to pull out of the area.

A long-standing dispute has prevailed over extensive mining exploitation which has resulted in widespread environmental damage, including water pollution. The company has also been blamed for dividing people into those who accept and those who oppose the mine's activities.

"Therefore we reject the marble mine's exploitation here," Juleta Baun, coordinator of Sanggar Suara Perempuan (Voice of Women Group), said on Saturday.

Timor Tengah Selatan regent Wilhelmus Nope urged locals to allow the mining company to continue operations pending an official decision on its fate. Nope said the mine has generated revenue for the regency.

The company director Tommy Sianto said the firm had suspended operations for six months due to the conflict. (yac/edt)