1. Exterior Environmental ministry
2. Environment minister Rachmat Witoelar sitting at news conference
4. Pan of news conference
5. SOUNDBITE: (Indonesian) Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesian Environment Minister:
"As the environment minister, I immediately order Freeport to improve the management of acid drainage at the mine to meet with the government standards and to manage the environmental impacts from its tailings disposal."
6. Various STILLS of Freeport mine
7. SOUNDBITE: (Indonesian) Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesian Environment Minister:
"We will take the legal route in this case. If Freeport do not follow our demand, which is made to protect the environment and people around the mine, we will take legal action against them."
8. Various STILLS of Freeport mine
9. Pan of news conference
11. SOUNDBITE: (Indonesian) Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesian Environment Minister:
"Freeport must not become an island within our country, or a country within a country. They must take into account government regulations and the feelings of the people. They also have to avoid endangering the lives of people in the region.
12. Various STILLS of Freeport mine
Indonesia's government on Thursday threatened legal action against US mining giant Freeport unless the company improves the environmental record of its massive gold mine in Papua province.
The announcement followed days of demonstrations against the company, some of which have called on the government to take over the Grasberg mine, run by a local unit of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.
"Freeport must not become an island within our country, or a country within a country," Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said. "They must take into account government regulations and the feelings of the people. They also have to avoid endangering the lives of people in the region."
Witoelar said that Grasberg would be given between two and three years to undertake improvements in the management of the millions of tones of waste ore, known as tailings, that are pumped out of the mine each year.
Reacting to the announcement, a Freeport spokesman said the company had the same objective as the Ministry of Environment, in minimising the impact their mining operations have on the environment.
The environment minister said there were fears that tailings could start piling up and possibly trigger landslides or flooding in communities living close to the mine in the highlands of Papua province in Indonesia's far east.
Witoelar said that if the problems remained unresolved then his ministry would file a lawsuit against the mine, similar to the one that was pursued against fellow US miner Newmont over alleged pollution at its mine on Sulawesi Island.
Witoelar made the declaration after receiving a technical report by a team of independent experts tasked with assessing whether the mine was damaging the environment.
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