MAC: Mines and Communities

Striking Freeport miners shot dead in Indonesian strike

Published by MAC on 2011-10-18
Source: Reuters, Al Jazeera, Guardian, statement, others (2011-10-17)

Peru strike continues, as president backs workers

The prolonged strike by Indonesian workers at Grasberg in West Papua, the world's largest gold-copper miner has seen several people  killed.

On October 10th, Indonesian police shot and killed two protesters, while wounding at least six others. 

And, on Monday 17 October, Freeport announced it was suspending its operations, following "suspected pipe sabotage" and the continuing workers' blockade.

Just four days later another three men were found dead, though at the time of writing they have yet to be identified.

The Grasberg mine is operated by US-based Freeport, with Rio Tinto holding a vital 40% share in a joint venture.

According to Papua New Guinea's Labour ministry, Freeport has been using contractors at the mine, thus violating the country's labour laws by replacing striking employees.

And in Peru, too

Freeport also operates the Cerro Verde copper-molybdenum mine in Peru, where workers have been on strike for higher pay since the end of September.

The newly-elected government of president Humala has accused the company of a "grave infraction" in running the mine using volunteer labour. For earlier story, see: Freeport, Rio Tinto battle with workers

SPANISH

Miner shot dead in Indonesian strike

Security forces have opened fire on striking Freeport miners, killing at least one person and injuring six others.

Al Jazeera

10 October 2011

Indonesian police have shot and killed one protester and wounded at least six others when they clashed with striking workers at a mine run by US company Freeport McMoran, a union official said.

Officials say Freeport's Papuan workers receive the lowest wages of any Freeport facility in the world
Officials say Freeport's Papuan workers receive the lowest wages
of any Freeport facility in the world. Source: EPA / Al Jazeera

More than 1,000 workers were involved in the clashes on Monday at the Grasberg complex, one of the world's biggest gold and copper mines, in Indonesia's Papua province.

"A protester was killed from a gunshot fired by police and another was shot in the chest," Virgo Solossa, an official for the mine workers' union, said. He identified the dead man as 30-year-old Petrus Ayemsekaba.

A doctor at a local hospital confirmed that one person was killed by a gunshot

Union leader Manuel Maniambo said thousands of striking workers were trying to prevent replacement workers from heading by bus to the mine, high up in the mountains.

Blocked by security forces, some of them became angry, throwing rocks and yelling insults.

An AFP reporter at the scene said that workers damaged the entry gate at a mining terminal and burned three food delivery trucks.

'Complete anarchy'

The troops responded with gunfire, killing one worker and leaving another hospitalised in critical condition, said Maniambo.

A Papua police spokesman Wachyono said at least seven police were hurt in the incident.

He blamed the striking workers, saying security forces had no choice but to fire warning shots after they became violent.

"It was complete anarchy ... they were attacking the police," he said.

The striking miners are demanding that their current minimum wage of less than $2 an hour be raised to globally competitive levels.

Union representatives say that Freeport's Papuan workers, who are mostly indigenous Melanesians, receive the lowest wages of any Freeport mining facility in the world.

"We call for police and the management to stop production during the period of strike," protester Yohane Natkime said.

Solossa said that the union, which has been on strike since September 15, last week declared a second month of strike action, after the first month-long strike period expired.

He said that at least 8,000 of the company's 23,000 workers would remain on strike.

Production in the first week of the strike last month was slashed by 230,000 tonnes a day, representing daily losses of $6.7m in government revenue.

Slowing production at Grasberg, coupled with a spate of strikes at Freeport's South American mines, has raised concerns of a global copper shortage, analysts have said.


Protester killed in Freeport Indonesia mine strike

By Samuel Wanda and Rieka Rahadiana

Reuters

10 October 2011

A clash between striking workers and police near Freeport McMoRan's Indonesian copper mine killed one protestor and injured others, showing a speedy end to the dispute looks remote.

The demonstration by the miners, over access to their barracks, was the biggest clash at Freeport Indonesia's for four years and comes after workers extended their strike at the world's second biggest copper mine by another month to mid-November.

Copper prices have so far shrugged off the strike, given fears about metal demand from a shaky global economy, but extended lost output from Grasberg combined with supply disuptions in Chile is likely to prove supportive.

"The news of the conflict at Grasberg is a timely reminder that supply considerations remain a major source of upside price risk," said Citigroup analyst David Thurtell.

"If the financial market backdrop settles down, then people will return to the strong fundamentals for copper," he said.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange dropped 0.7 percent to $7,321 a tonne by 0532 GMT, off an earlier low of $7,274.25.

Disgruntled Grasberg workers, on strike since Sept. 15 to seek better pay and conditions, demonstrated after being barred from collecting belongings from barracks at Gorong Gorong, where buses take workers to the remote mountain mine.

Police fired warning shots in the air, and one worker later died in hospital from a gunshot wound to the chest, said union official Virgo Solossa. Local police chief Denny Siregar said eight workers were injured, while seven policemen were wounded by miners throwing stones.

Police Reinforcements

Mine workers burned four trailers after their colleague was killed, according to local television footage seen by Reuters.

"The situation has now cooled down," said Siregar, adding he had now assigned 500-600 police to deal with thousands of workers involved in the demonstration.

The strike, which had been peaceful until Monday, has slashed output, processing and ore shipments from Grasberg.

The mine is in Indonesia's easternmost Papua region, where a simmering separatist movement has led to occasional attacks on mine workers and police in recent years.

Freeport, which has used some contractors to work at Grasberg duing the strike, said last week it had scaled up mining and milling output and concentrate sales, but declined to comment further on production on Monday.

"We are continuing to work with the local police to deal with these acts of intimidation so that our workers located in Timika can exercise their rights to return to work if they so desire," said spokesman Ramdani Sirait.

An eight-day strike at Grasberg in July led the company to suffer a production loss of 35 million lb (15,876 tonnes) of copper and 60,000 ounces of gold.

The current two-month strike by unionised workers, about half of Freeport's 23,000 Indonesian workers, is the longest stoppage in Indonesia's mining industry.

Miners in other developing nations have walked off the job this year to demand better pay as corporate profits surged.

Freeport, the world's largest publicly traded copper miner, is also facing a strike at its Corro Verde mine in Peru. Union leaders last week failed to agree on a wage deal that would settle the strike.

The company said last month it was unlikely to meet third-quarter sales estimates due to the industrial action.


Indonesia must investigate mine strike protest killing

Amnesty International Press Release

10 October 2011

The Indonesian authorities must immediately investigate the use of deadly force by police at a mining protest, Amnesty International said today after one protester was killed and at least six injured.

Indonesian security forces opened fire on striking workers of a gold and copper mine in the eastern province of Papua run by US company Freeport-McMoRan on Monday. Some 8,000 workers at the mine have been on strike since 15 September, after demands for a pay rise reached a deadlock.

"This latest incident shows that Indonesian police have not learned how to deal with protesters without resorting to excessive, and even lethal, force," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director.

"The police have a duty to protect themselves and uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to fire live ammunition at these protesters," he said.

"The authorities must launch an independent and impartial investigation into this tragedy, and ensure that the results are made public," he added.

Mine worker Petrus Ayemseba was shot in the buttocks and died a few hours later. Six other workers - Leo Wandagau, Alius Komba, Melkias Rumbiak, Yunus Nguluduan, Philiton Kogoya and Ahmad Mustofa were also injured from the shooting.

Freeport has accused the strikers of trying to intimidate replacement workers whom the company was trying to move into the mine workers' barracks.

After the police opened fire, mine workers set fire to two container trucks heading to the mining town and pelted the police with rocks, according to local sources.

Amnesty International has documented numerous cases where Indonesian police have used unnecessary or excessive force or firearms and where no one has been held accountable.

"Indonesian authorities have failed to provide justice and reparations to most victims of excessive use force by the police. They must get to the bottom of this incident quickly and signal that they will impose adequate disciplinary or criminal sanctions on the police and will protect the right of Indonesians to protest," Sam Zarifi said.

"It is high time the Indonesian police trained and equipped their staff in non-violent methods of crowd control. They also need to ensure that they have non-lethal means of force at their disposal to disperse the protesters if necessary," he added.


Protester killed in Indonesia mine strike

The Guardian

10 October 2011

One person killed and a dozen wounded after pay protest at Grasberg gold and copper mine turns violent

Indonesian security forces shot and killed one protester and wounded more than a dozen others as they clashed with striking workers at a mine run by US company Freeport-McMoran, the police said.

More than 1,000 workers were involved in the clashes at the Grasberg complex, one of the world's largest gold and copper mines, in the remote Papua province.

Two trucks en route to the mining town of Timika from a nearby port were set on fire by employees after they learned that Freeport-McMoran planned to bring in replacement workers and move them into their barracks. Smoke billowed into the air and caused flight delays at the nearby airport.

Workers at the Grasberg mine began the strike on 15 September to demand that their pay, which ranges from $2.10 to $3.50 (£1.34 to £2.24) an hour, be increased to up to $43 an hour. About 90% of the mine's 12,000 employees have been taking part in the walkout.

Grasberg has frequently seen protests over wages, with workers claiming they are paid 10% of what Freeport-McMoran pays its miners in other countries.

The company, which has come under fire in recent years for paying millions of dollars to Indonesian military and police to provide security, has also been the target of demonstrations because of alleged pollution and the unfair distribution of profits.

Union leader Manuel Maniambo said thousands of workers were trying to prevent replacement staff from travelling by bus to the mine. Others were upset after hearing their barracks, with their belongings still inside, had been taken over.

When blocked by security forces, the miners became angry, throwing rocks and yelling insults. The troops responded with gunfire, killing one worker and sending another to hospital in critical condition, Maniambo added.

A Papua police spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Wachyono, said at least 11 other people were hurt, including six officers. He blamed the striking workers, saying security forces had no choice but to fire warning shots after they became violent. "It was complete anarchy ... they were attacking the police," said Wachyono, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name.

Freeport-McMoran, based in Phoenix, Arizona, released a statement saying strikers were to blame. The company said they had blocked roads, intimidated replacement workers and their families, as well as employees at bus terminals and barracks in recent weeks.

"We are continuing to work with the local police to deal with these acts of intimidation so that our workers located in Timika can exercise their rights to return to work if they so desire," it said. "The individuals responsible for these illegal acts of aggression should be held accountable."

This is the second strike this year at the Grasberg mine. Workers staged an eight-day walkout in July over low wages and the dismissal of union leaders. The action slashed the company's revenue by £19m a day, analysts said.


Three dead as gunmen attack Freeport truck

The Jakarta Post

15 October 2011

A deadly shooting rocked the already troubled copper and gold mining firm PT Freeport Indonesia in Papua on Friday, leaving three men dead and three others badly injured, according to initial reports.

Witnesses said unidentified gunmen attacked a Freeport security truck at around 3:45 p.m. local time while it was passing mile 36 on Tanggul Timur road near Nayaro village, nearly the same spot of another Freeport-related shooting in April.

The truck carried two military officers - Second Sgt. Eko and First Pvt. Pratu Tobias - and two employees working for the company's security management unit - Roy Maleke and Beny Thomas.

Unconfirmed reports say a man was found dead inside the truck, which caught fire after the shooting. Two men were found dead outside the vehicle.

Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr Wachyono confirmed that three men died from the shooting and that a second security team that approached the vehicle to rescue the victims was also attacked by the mysterious gunmen, injuring one security officer and another military officer.

He added as of Friday night, joint security forces from the Mimika District Police, Papua Mobile Brigade Unit and Freeport's security force were still securing the crime scene.

The shooting near Freeport's site came on the heels of the death of Petrus Ayamseba, who was shot dead this week by the police during a rally by Freeport workers demanding a salary increase. Petrus, 36, worked for PT Pangansari, a firm that provides food for Freeport workers.

Human rights organizations condemned the violence. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Freeport employees have been under constant threat of violence since July 2009.

In April, Daniel Mansawan and Harry Siregar, both Freeport security officials, were found dead in their burned-out car at the mile 37 marker on Tanggul Timur road. Although the cause of their deaths was confirmed to have been the fire, the police said they found bullet holes.

Just a day before Daniel and Harry were killed, two other Freeport employees - Abdul Simanjuntak and Agus Patah - were fired upon while driving. They were injured by shards of glass from the windshield.


Gunmen kill 3 at Freeport mine in Indonesia - police

Reuters

14 October 2011

TIMIKA Indonesia - Three people were killed on Friday at a gold and copper mine run by PT Freeport Indonesia, a unit of U.S miner Freeport McMoRan , local police in Mimika in the Indonesian province of Papua said.

Police suspect unidentified gunmen shot dead two men near and burned another man to death inside a car, police said.

Freeport is facing a prolonged strike at its giant Grasberg mine, but it was not clear if the shooting was linked to that dispute or to a simmering independence movement in the remote region. One protester was killed earlier this week.

"We confirm that there was a shooting and we're investigating it," a police spokesman in the Mimika capital of Timika said.

Two army officers and two company security risk management officers were shot and wounded when they came to investigate, police said.

"We are working with the police and security personnel to address the situation," said Freeport Indonesia spokesman Ramdani Sirait told Reuters.

An eight-day strike at Grasberg in July led the company to suffer a production loss of 35 million lb (15,876 tonnes) of copper and 60,000 ounces of gold.

The current two-month strike by unionised workers, about half of Freeport's 23,000 Indonesian workers, is the longest stoppage in Indonesia's mining industry.


Freeport must respect Cerro Verde strike or pay fine - Peru govt.

By Caroline Stauffer and Marco Aquino

Reuters

12 October 2011

LIMA - Government labor inspectors said Freeport-McMoRan must stop relying on volunteer workers to keep its Cerro Verde mine in Peru open during a strike or pay a fine, according to documents obtained by Reuters on Tuesday.

Workers have been on strike for 13 days and are demanding higher pay at the mine, which churned out 312,336 tonnes of copper in 2010, or about 2 percent of global supply.

"The company ... must refrain from acts that would impede the exercise of the right to strike by 1,099 workers affiliated with the Cerro Verde union organization and stop replacing the tasks of workers who are on strike," said a report from the labor ministry that was obtained by Reuters.

Labor inspectors indicated the company had reassigned jobs held by union members to other staffers to weather the strike.

Government officials confirmed that a letter signed by labor ministry officials says Cerro Verde has until Wednesday to heed the government's request or face fines of between $14,505 and $26,383.

The strike has dragged on in part because the government, for the first time in Cerro Verde's 40-year history, declared that the walkout was legal. That meant workers could stay on the picket line without fear of being fired.

Cerro Verde has said it has been "legally operating" the facility with approximately 600 personnel that volunteered to work under strike conditions since the strike began on Sept. 29.

A spokesman for Freeport-McMoRan, which is also facing a strike at its huge Grasberg mine in Indonesia, said on Tuesday it was "operating in accordance with Peruvian law with employees who have chosen to work under strike conditions."

He did not say whether the company would pay the fine.

The company maintains it has averted an impact on Peru production so far.

The government's latest action suggests leftist President Ollanta Humala is taking a more sympathetic approach to organized labor in the world's No. 2 copper producer as part of a broader push to calm social tensions over the spoils of natural resources.

Former President Alan Garcia was widely seen as putting companies before workers. His drive to secure foreign investment in mines and energy in the country's rural hinterland spurred massive protests, many from communities that felt left out of a decade-long economic boom.

Prime Minister Salomon Lerner recently told the country's foreign press club that Humala's government "has changed its attitude towards organized labor."


Peru warns Freeport of ‘grave infraction' at Cerro Verde

By Teresa Cespedes

Reuters

14 October 2011

LIMA -Peru's government said on Thursday that Freeport-McMoRan was committing a "grave infraction" by relying on volunteer staff to fill jobs vacated by strikers 15 days ago at its Cerro Verde mine.

Vice Labor Minister Pablo Checa said the company, which controls the mine that produces 2 percent of global supply, should refrain from using replacement workers of any kind and said the government was in the process of fining the company up to $26,380.

Freeport spokesman Eric Kinneberg said on Wednesday "Cerro Verde is operating in accordance with Peruvian law with employees who have chosen to work under strike conditions."

Workers seek an 11 percent pay increase and have been able to stay on the picket line because the government has ruled that the strike is legal, meaning laborers cannot be fired for downing tools.

The ruling marked the first time in 40 years the government has deemed a strike at Cerro Verde to be legitimate, a move that underscores the pro-labor stance of left-leaning President Ollanta Humala and was an attempt to pressure the company to reach a labor accord faster.

"What we want is for there to be a balance between both parties, because if one party has all the advantages and the other party is at a disadvantage then obviously it is more difficult to reach an agreement," Checa said.

Both sides were called on Thursday to participate in another round of talks brokered by the government to end the strike but little or headway has been made.

Production not "materially affected"

Kinneberg, Freeport's spokesman, has said production has not been "materially affected" by the strike at the mine that produced 312,336 tonnes of copper in 2010.

Cerro Verde is operating with 600 "supervisory and personnel that volunteered to work under strike conditions," according to Kinneberg.

The mine, located in the southern region of Arequipa, normally employs 2,000 people.

Kinneberg has not specified at what capacity the mine is operating, though analysts say it is likely being pinched.

"It's hard to calculate but I think with 15 days of strike one could say production will go down," said Daniel Mori, an analyst at Inteligo SAB brokerage in Lima.

"Cerro Verde could see a small impact on its third quarter output, but if the strike continues, there could be a greater impact in the fourth quarter," he said.

Peru supplies 7 percent of the world's copper, and is the world's No. 2 producer of the red metal after neighboring Chile. (Reporting by Teresa Cespedes. Writing by Caroline Stauffer. Editing by Terry Wade and Bob Burgdorfer)


Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Still Running Strike-Bound Cerro Verde Mine

Gold & Silver Matters

3 October 2011

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc said supervisory staff and volunteers are operating its Cerro Verde mine in Peru and production has not been hurt by a strike.

"Production of copper and molybdenum concentrates have not been materially affected by the strike that began on Sept. 29," spokesman Eric Kinneberg told Reuters in an e-mail.

"We will continue negotiating a new labor contract to replace the one that expired on Aug. 31, 2011," he said.

Talks last Friday failed to end a strike at the giant pit, which churns out 2 percent of the global copper supply.

Kinneberg said Cerro Verde is operating "with supervisory and personnel that volunteered to work under strike conditions."

In what appeared to be a bid to pressure the U.S. company to reach a pact to raise pay for workers, Peru's government upheld a ruling that declared the strike legal. That gives the union the right to formally ask the government to establish a wage settlement that would end the walkout.


Freeport Grasberg's copper/gold pipeline cut, mine shut, output to fall significantly

Reuters

17 October 2011

JAKARTA - Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc halted copper and gold production on Monday at its giant Grasberg mine in Indonesia because of security fears and worker blockades, in the worst supply disruption since a strike began a month ago.

Freeport Indonesia said the main pipe carrying copper concentrate to its port from Grasberg, the world's second-biggest copper mine and with the biggest gold reserves, was cut earlier on Monday.

It said it did not know who cut the pipeline and is still evaluating the impact on copper shipments from the remote mountain mine, with no force majeure declared yet. The firm does not know how long it will take to fix the pipe.

"Production is completely cut because the main pipe has been cut and because of security concerns," Freeport Indonesia spokesman Ramdani Sirait told a news conference, adding the mine's silver output had also been stopped.

The stoppage is a setback for the firm after it said last week it ramped up copper concentrate output at Grasberg to average more than 4,000 tonnes per day by relying largely on non-unionised and contract workers, a move criticised by the government.

The firm said it had still managed to ship 103,189 tonnes of concentrate in the past week.

Copper prices have so far shrugged off the supply disruption during the two-month strike that started on Sept. 15 because of worries a weakening global economy would hit demand for metals. Prices were flat on Monday.

"It's all fairly bullish for the price, but the market doesn't seem terribly deterred," said Citigroup analyst David Thurtell. "It seems to me that market funds are short."

Road blockades, part of the prolonged strike by around 12,000 of the mine's 23,000 workers, have now stopped containers carrying food and medicine from reaching the mine and jet fuel from reaching the nearest airport, the company said.

"Logistics needed for production and activities in the highlands have been held at the port," said Sirait. "There are hundreds and hundreds of containers now piling up at the port."

Freeport said last week it planned to ship 79,000 tonnes of copper concentrate from its Papua port.

Independence Movement

Three men were killed in a shooting last week near the mine in Papua, though it was not clear if this was linked to the pay dispute, or to a simmering independence movement in the region.

Rebels in the eastern province, who have waged a low-level insurgency against the government for four decades, previously threatened to blockade the mine after police killed a separatist in an attack in late 2009.

A clash last week between striking workers and police near the mine led to the death of two protesters and injured others, as disgruntled and striking Grasberg workers protested after being barred from collecting belongings from their barracks.

Freeport has been trying to lure strikers back to work and has been using contractors at the mine, leading the country's labour ministry to say the U.S. miner has violated the country's labour laws by replacing striking workers.

Freeport Indonesia has denied the claim, saying this was part of an annual hiring process as the company required more workers to operate the mine.

Miners in other developing nations have walked out this year to demand better pay as corporate profits surged.

In Peru, the union has pulled out of talks with Freeport McMoRan to end a 16 day-old walkout on Friday and members threatened to go on hunger strike to push demands for a pay rise.

The government in the Latin American country has also said Freeport was committing a "grave infraction" by relying on volunteer staff to fill jobs vacated by strikers at its Cerro Verde mine.


Pipeline 'Sabotage' Pushes Freeport to Halt Production

Banjir Ambarita & Ririn Radiawati Kusuma

Jakarta Post

17 October 2011

Jayapura. The Indonesian unit of US mining giant Freeport McMoRan announced on Monday that it was suspending its operations in West Papua amid a suspected pipe sabotage and a blockade by striking workers.

The halt, which concerned both the Grasberg gold and copper mine and underground operations, occurred because of "sabotage," said Nurhadi Sabirin, Freeport's vice president for open mines.

The company's pipe network, which carries gold and copper concentrate from the processing center to the port, was tampered with and damaged, he said.

"All operations are halted starting this morning because it is impossible for us to work if it is not safe," Nurhadi said. "The concentrate pipe can also no longer channel the concentrate."

Freeport Indonesia executive vice president and chief administration officer Sinta Sirait confirmed that the alleged sabotage had caused the company to halt production.

"The channeling of the gold and copper concentrate from Mile 74 to the portside at Mile 45 has been disturbed seriously, so we have decided to halt production," Sinta said.

He added that the company's pipe network for gold and copper concentrate was severed at Mile 25.

Neither Sinta nor Nurhadi would comment on who was suspected of damaging the pipe, but Freeport has faced a general strike with union workers demanding better working conditions and higher pay.

"The mob outside of the Freeport complex is still blocking the way," said Freeport spokesman Ramdani Sirait, adding that the protesters were using heavy digging and earth-moving machinery to enforce their blockade.

Freeport has been operating at only about 80 percent capacity in the past week, Sinta said. The mines' production capacity is between 220,000 tons and 230,000 tons of gold and copper ore per month. The ore is processed at the refinery at Mile 74 into concentrate at a rate of 6,000 to 7,000 tons per day. That concentrate is sent to the port through the pipeline.

The protesters have also been blocking the airport and the local port, cutting off the supply of supplies to the Freeport complex in Tembaga Pura and Kuala Kencana since Sunday.

"We employees inside the Kuala Kencana complex do not have any food stocks left and cannot work. Please solve this matter immediately," said Solihin, a Freeport employee during a video conference with the president and the concerned ministers on the problem at the mine.

Debi Upela, the wife of a Freeport employee in Tembaga Pura, said during the same video conference that employees' children were afraid to go to school.

A total of 1,300 non-staffers and 5,000 employees of contractors who were hired by Freeport have continued to turn up for work at the mine.

The halt in production is expected to cause some $8 million in losses to the government, industry sources said.

Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wachyono said officers were still looking for the six gunmen who attacked a Freeport vehicle and killed three employees on Friday.

"We are still pursuing the perpetrators by combing the area around the location. We are also using sniffer dogs," he said.

Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info