New accident jeopardizes Freeport-Rio Tinto's Papuan minePublished by MAC on 2013-06-03
Source: Mining.com, Reuters (2013-06-01)
A fortnight ago, twenty eight workers went to their deaths at Freeport-Rio Tinto's Grasberg mine in Papua. See: London Calling on a Tale of Two Disasters
Last Friday, yet another employee was critically injured during another "accident", leading to renewed calls by trade unions for a thorough probe into health and safety provisions at the mine.
Grasberg is the world's largest single provider of gold, and its second biggest copper producer.
New accident jeopardizes Freeport's Indonesian copper supply
31 May 2013
Another accident on Friday at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia threatened to close Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc's largest operation, reports Reuters.
After a truck was covered in wet muck from an overflowing storage bin, the driver was left with critical injuries, which led union reps to call for a work stoppage at the world's second-largest copper mine.
Freeport said the incident was being investigated and the circumstances were inconsistent with safety protocols.
The strained relations between the company and labour unions casts doubt on whether the mine will be able to supply copper to customers.
Copper traders have raised concern whether the miner will default on shipments, especially since the firm has declined to release data about stockpile sizes. They have also brought up additional questions about the expansion plan for the underground mine given the tunnel collapse on May 14.
Other analysts said the expansion will likely continue as deposits in the open pit are depleting.
Recent accidents may also affect contract extension negotiations between the Indonesian government and Freeport, which wants to operate past 2021.
Union says Freeport workers will not return till accident probe is complete
31 May 2013
JAKARTA - Workers at Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc 's Indonesia mine will not return to open pit mining until all investigations are completed into this month's deadly tunnel collapse, union official Virgo Solossa said on Thursday.
The company said on Wednesday it had resumed some operations at the world's second largest copper mine, in the remote province of Papua, after 28 people were killed just over two weeks ago in one of Indonesia's worst mining disasters.
The union, which represents about 18,000 of the mine's 24,000 workers, agreed at a meeting on Thursday to stick to its previous position that work would not resume until the investigations were complete, Solossa said, noting that they had begun only a few days ago.
"Everyone who is responsible for the safety, and who abused the safety systems, should be sent home while the investigation is underway," Solossa, who is based in Papua, told Reuters by telephone.
Another reason for the boycott was that no one had been suspended over the accident, Solossa added.
The union's refusal to go back raises a question mark over how much longer the Freeport mine can continue deliveries to customers.
Freeport has been drawing on stocks to keep up overseas shipments during the two-week production shutdown. Industry sources say large mining operations typically have three to four weeks of ore stockpiled at port, and around three days on site.
The global copper market has been keeping an eye on the Grasberg closure, which has helped underpin metal prices, but only a prolonged shutdown will hit world supplies, which are still seen in a small surplus this year.
Freeport suspended operations at the Grasberg complex in eastern Indonesia on May 15, a day after a training area in a tunnel, away from the site of its main operations, caved in on 38 workers, killing 28 of them.
The open-pit mine normally produces around 140,000 tonnes of copper ore a day, while underground operations yield 80,000 tonnes.
Grasberg could stay shut for two months after Indonesia minister calls for halt
1 June 2013
Indonesia's mines minister has ordered Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold (NYSE: FCX) not to restart production at its Grasberg copper-gold mine until the result of a probe into recent accidents at the mine is complete.
Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold's Grasberg mine is the world's largest gold mine and third largest copper mine.
Reuters quotes Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry director of minerals Dede Suhendra as saying: "(Freeport must) stop all production activities except for maintenance until the results of the independent investigation are completed."
An official from the Phoenix, Arizona-based company confirmed the order and added the independent investigation is expected to take two months.
Freeport halted most operations at the mine in the remote Indonesian province of West Papua on May 15 after a tunnel collapse killed 28 workers.
The suspension of production follows another accident on Friday when a truck driver was left with critical injuries, which led union reps to call for a complete work stoppage.
Grasberg is the world's largest gold and third-largest copper mine with a history that dates back to the 1930s.
Copper traders have raised concern whether the miner will default on shipments, especially since the firm has declined to release data about stockpile sizes.
The stoppage has also raised questions about expansion plans for an underground mine given the May 14 tunnel collapse and ongoing contract extension negotiations between the Indonesian government and Freeport, which wants to operate past 2021.
The storied mine has been the jewel in the crown of Freeport for decades and the $29 billion company keeps a tight grip on the project despite frequent worker strikes, occasional outbreaks of sectarian violence and political interference.
Copper was changing hands for $3.27 a pound on Friday, down 9.4% since the start of the year, amid concerns of a rise in supply.
Freeport reopens pit mining at Grasberg in Indonesia
29 May 2013
The Grasberg mine complex in Indonesia run by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. re-opened pit operations Tuesday, reports Reuters.
Underground mining is still suspended while a safety inspection is conducted following the tunnel collapse two weeks ago that killed 28 people.
The mine workers' union plans to meet Thursday to debate whether it supports the restart as it had said earlier it wanted to see all safety investigations done before anyone returned to work.
Freeport said the government had finished its prelimnary investogation into the accident. The company is now fixing up the underground shafts.
The open pit produces about 140,000 tonnes of copper ore per day and the underground puts out about 80,000 tonnes.