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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 11:19 GMT
Protests keep Papua mine closed
By Rachel Harvey
BBC, Jakarta

Protesters in provincial capital of Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006
Police are trying to keep the protests peaceful
A protest at a huge gold and copper mine in the Indonesian province of Papua has halted production for a second day.

The mine, operated by a subsidiary of US-based Freeport-McMoRan, is a major source of revenue for Indonesia. A crowd of around 500 people gathered outside the mine complex, its ranks swelled by dozens of curious onlookers. The demonstrators want the right to prospect for gold among waste rock left behind by the main mining operation.

They are also demanding a meeting with the American executive in charge of the mine.

But it is understood the man in question is currently out of the country.

Five people hurt

One of the protestors contacted by the BBC said he and his colleagues were prepared to wait as long as it took.

He said they had been mistreated by paramilitary police, who, he said, had fired rubber-coated bullets, injuring five people during the operation to remove illegal miners from the site on Tuesday.

The police deny the allegations.

Negotiations to try to resolve the dispute are continuing but there are no signs of an early breakthrough.

A spokesman for Freeport told local television that the suspension of production at the Papua mine could cost the company up to $12m a day.

Earlier, in Jakarta, a group of around 20 Papuan students attacked the building where the Freeport offices are based.

They smashed windows and set a ground floor travel agency on fire. Thirteen students have since been detained by police.

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