Sunday, May 26, 2013

1) Freeport to keep going underground despite incident

1) Freeport to keep going underground despite incident

2) Benny Wenda of Free West Papua Campaign Interview May 18th, 2013.

3) Freeport Indonesia Union Says Mine Shut but Maintenance Under Way


1) Freeport to keep going underground despite incident

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New York-listed Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc., is sticking to its target to expand into an underground mine in Grasberg, Papua, despite a recent fatal incident at its training facility at another location.

Freeport-McMoran president and CEO Richard C. Adkerson told reporters on Thursday that the Phoenix, Arizona-based mining giant would complete its operations at the Grasberg open-pit mine in 2016 and would then start going into the new underground mine, which is still under development.

The company each day produces 140,000 tons of ore from the Grasberg open-pit mine, the largest one it operates, and 80,000 tons of ore from the firm’s Deep Ore Zone (DOZ) mine, an underground block cave located a few kilometers from Grasberg.

“We will complete works at the Grasberg open-pit mine at about the end of 2016, after which we will be mining totally through an underground facility that will be the world’s largest underground mining operations,” he said in Jakarta.

Adkerson was on a nine-day visit in Indonesia following a tunnel collapse at the firm’s underground training facility located 2.7 kilometers away from the Grasberg mine.

The training facility is also located 500 meters (not kilometers as earlier reported) away from another Freeport site, the Big Gossan mine, which was established in 1998 in conjunction with construction of the training facility.

Of the 38 workers trapped in the tunnel that collapsed on May 14, 28 died while 10 suffered minor to major injuries. The evacuation process concluded on Tuesday evening.

Adkerson, who flew back to Phoenix after the Jakarta press conference, said Freeport would move forward with its plan to allocate US$15 billion of investment for operations at the future underground mine, which will be known as the Grasberg block cave mine.

The new mine is expected to begin producing 160,000 tons of ore per day in 2017, bringing total daily output to 240,000 tons of ore with the existing DOZ mine.

Adkerson said he was optimistic that the expansion plan would meet its target despite the recent incident, which he considered “unexpected and unforeseen” in the company’s 30 years of operations.

“I am very confident about the safety [of the future underground mining operations]. We have a good track-record in operations safety in Indonesia,” he said, adding that the incident was not caused by Freeport’s mining activities, despite the fact that no official statement about the cause of the incident has been released by either the government or the company.

Freeport has ceased operations while a government-led investigation into the accident is underway.

While it is unclear on when that would conclude, Adkerson said Freeport would resume its operations in Papua shortly afterward.

The May 14 incident was not the first for Freeport.

In December 2009, a worker died and four others were injured in a landslide, while in May 2008, at least 20 Papuan gold miners were buried in a landslide at Freeport’s tailing area following two days of heavy rain.

A landslide in November 2007 injured 13 workers and in March 2006, two people were killed after a landslide buried an employee cafeteria at the Grasberg Mine.


2) Benny Wenda of Free West Papua Campaign Interview May 18th, 2013.

Published on May 24, 2013
An interview with Benny Wenda of the Free West Papua Campaign in Oxford, UK, on 18 May 2013.

Topics included: TedX Sydney appearance, the opening of the Free West Papua Campaign Office in Oxford, Victor Yeimo, Human Rights, and media access to Papua.


3) Freeport Indonesia Union Says Mine Shut but Maintenance Under Way

Between 35 and 40 percent of workers at Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc’s Indonesian unit returned to work on Saturday to carry out maintenance work after a tunnel collapse that killed 28 people, a union official said.
The resumption of work was a possible sign the firm was gearing up towards restarting operations at the world’s No. 2 copper mine.
Arizona-based Freeport suspended operations at the remote Papua mine on May 15, at a cost estimated at about $15 million a day in lost production.
Operations were suspended a day after the tunnel, away from its main operations, fell in on 38 workers.
“Starting today, around 35 to 40 percent of workers have been back to work in Freeport mining facility in Papua, but only for mining facilities and equipment maintenance, especially in Grasberg open-pit mining,” Papua-based union leader Virgo Solossa told Reuters on Saturday.
“Production activities are still shut. We hope investigation teams complete their works as soon as possible.”
Several investigations are being conducted, including one by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and one by Freeport Indonesia using international experts.
Solossa reiterated that all investigations into the cause of the collapse must be completed before mining resumes at the Grasberg complex, which also holds the world’s largest gold reserves.
“The company, with the unions, have agreed to actually return to work, starting yesterday,” Freeport spokeswoman Daisy Primayanti said on Saturday, although she was unable to give an exact figure or percentage of returning workers.
On Thursday, Freeport Chief Executive Richard Adkerson said the company was prepared to re-start production relatively quickly and had taken the first steps of getting workers back and having training briefings.
Primayanti said a possible restart of operations at Grasberg depended on the outcome of underground safety inspections being carried out by the energy and mineral resources ministry.
“Obviously, the company is keen on getting back to normal operations, pending further direction from the mine inspector,” she said.
With no official estimate of how long the investigations might run, analysts worry the mine could face a prolonged closure and further strain relations between Freeport and trade unions after a three-month strike in late 2011.
The company and union put on hold pay talks, which began on May 13, after the tunnel collapse.
“It is not ethical to link the accident to the pay talks,” Solossa said. “However, as far as safety is concerned, we will push the management to improve the safety systems for the sake of workers.”
The Grasberg mine, which normally produces around 220,000 tons of concentrated ore a day, employs about 24,000 workers.

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