Radio NZ International / Pacific Media Watch
Human rights breaches have prompted the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to end its investment in the huge Freeport McMoRan copper and gold mine in Indonesia’s West Papua region.
Until now, the fund, of just over US$15 billion, has had just over a US$1 million directly invested in the Grasberg mine, and had rejected calls that this was an inappropriate investment of public money.
But the manager for responsible investment, Ann-Maree O’Connor says the fund has become concerned at a recurrence of security issues at the mine and she says human rights breaches are a key factor.
“The context is such that there have been fatalities at the mine, that there have been reports by MSCI and other sources of information that these have breached human rights standards so we believe that the situation is one that could continue well into the future, and those are the standards that we look at when we considering reviewing the behaviour of companies.”
The NZ Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman said this was a very positive development.
“The people of West Papua will, I think, receive the information very gratefully, the fact that the New Zealand government, the New Zealand Super Fund is taking a stand against the terrible practices at this mine. I think it’s great news.”
Dr Russel Norman said it was “great” that the Super Fund was taking a stronger ethical stance.
PMW editor: The NZ Superannuation Fund’s involvement in the controversial Freeport mine was challenged in a major investigative article in Metro magazine last December.
The article, written by AUT communication studies student and photojournalist Karen Abplanalp, featured a long-running strike at the mine and the shooting of miners in “suspicious circumstances”.
The allegations were widely reported by Pacific Media Watch.