Mining resumes at Freeport Indonesia copper mine following fatal incident

Indonesia's Coal and Minerals Director General Bambang Gatot denied earlier reports that work could halt for four days while an investigation was carried out into the death of one worker and the injury of another in a bulldozer accident.

By: Reuters | Jakarta | Published:October 19, 2016 2:21 pm

Operations at Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s Grasberg open pit copper mine in Indonesia have resumed after a one-day stoppage following a fatal incident at the mine late on Monday. “Today operations returned to normal,” Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said. “While investigations are running we will continue production while waiting for further directions.” He was unable to comment on output levels at the mine.

Indonesia’s Coal and Minerals Director General Bambang Gatot denied earlier reports that work could halt for four days while an investigation was carried out into the death of one worker and the injury of another in a bulldozer accident. “That’s not right. It stopped temporarily,” Gatot told Reuters. Investigators would later make recommendations to the company, he said. Virgo Solossa, an official at Freeport workers union, said the incident was not expected to result in any worker protests or strikes. “This was purely an accident.”

Relations between Freeport and worker unions have been strained in recent years, partly over safety concerns. Production was brought to a halt in 2015 after workers blocked access to Grasberg for five days. Workers went on strike for 10 days late last month in a dispute over conditions.

Freeport Indonesia, which employs around 24,000 workers, said in December it aimed to produce 180,000 tonnes to 200,000 tonnes of copper ore per day this year. A prolonged stoppage at Grasberg could support copper prices but would also deny the Indonesian government of desperately needed revenue from one of its biggest taxpayers. London copper prices have traded flat this year after three years of declines, as a grinding recovery in global demand, driven by China, has been met by a flood of new supply.