MAC: Mines and Communities

Indonesia: Union protests after workers killed at Freeport mine

Published by MAC on 2014-10-09
Source: Statement, Reuters,, Wall St Journal

Previous article on MAC: New accident jeopardizes Freeport-Rio Tinto's Papuan mine


Note: Rio Tinto remains a 40% joint venture partner with Freeport in expansion of the Grasberg mine and in exploring other concession areas; it also obtains a similar proportion of the mine output.

Improve safety or face more protests - Freeport Indonesia union


8 October 2014

JAKARTA - Workers at Freeport-McMoRan Inc's giant Indonesian copper mine are seeking face-to-face talks with local management following a fatal accident, and may plan a further mine blockade or strike action, a union official said.

Hundreds of angry protestors blocked access for two days last week to the open-pit area of the Grasberg copper complex, where production has been halted following the death of four workers on Sept. 27. The open pit accounts for more than half of the mine's output.

Fresh protests, blockades or strike action could be triggered if workers' safety concerns and other demands were ignored, said Albar Sabang, a senior official at a Freeport union, potentially hindering copper exports.

"Production is important but safety is number one," Sabang told Reuters, adding that protesting workers had demanded a meeting on Oct. 11-12 with Freeport Indonesia CEO Rozik Soetjipto. "If the demands are not met they will plan to do another protest," he said.

The Indonesian government is investigating the accident, which involved a collision between a light vehicle carrying nine people and a haul truck, and has laid out a number of required work changes for open-pit mining to resume.

Freeport has not responded to requests for comment, but the Arizona-based firm said in statements last week that it would work closely with the government accident investigation team and that safety at Grasberg is a priority.

A tunnel collapse last year killed 28 workers at the mine in one of the country's worst mining disasters. Union officials say five people have now died at the mine this year following an earlier fatality.

The Grasberg complex sits inside the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and faces regular earthquakes, as well as torrential rainfall that can trigger landslides down steep slopes. The mine's position on top of a mountain means workers also have to cope with altitude sickness and poor visibility due to thick mist.
Improvements Demanded

A video on YouTube that purports to show the latest incident, shows a heavy duty hauling truck drive over a four-wheel drive vehicle at a bend in the road at the mine site.

As a worker standing between the two vehicles runs to avoid the haulage truck, the four-wheel drive vehicle is crushed.

The video could not be independently verified by Reuters.

Workers at last week's protest complained that the company's management has put production ahead of worker safety.

"I've only had one training session, which was at the beginning before I started working here," a worker who drives trucks similar to the one involved in the accident told Reuters. The worker declined to be named.

At a news conference late on Tuesday, mines ministry officials said changes needed at the mine before open-pit activities could resume included retraining haulage truck drivers, more safety meetings, greater use of mobile communications, guidelines to increase traffic safety and maintaining mining facilities when production has stopped.

Freeport officials are expected to outline planned safety changes at a meeting with the mine ministry on Thursday.

"All our demands have a deadline so that the company will take them seriously," said Bambang Susigit, a senior mines ministry official.

Freeport, one of the biggest tax payers in Southeast Asia's largest economy, only recently resolved a tax spat with the government that halted exports for months and frayed relations.

Rio Tinto has a joint venture with Freeport for a 40 per cent share of Grasberg's production above specific levels until 2021, and 40 per cent of all production after 2021. (Additional reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Reporting by Michael Taylor and Dennys Kapa; Editing by Richard Pullin)

Fight For Decent Works, STOP Precarious Working conditions in PT Freeport Indonesia mine site

CEMWU (local) Press Release

7 October 2014

The latest fatal accidents that happened consecutively in PT Freeport Indonesia (Affiliate of Freeport-McMoran a US Mining Company based in Phoenix Arizona, USA) are as follows:

28 dead in the collapse of the training room at Big Gossan Underground area at May 2013, 1 dead in the collapse of tunnel at GBC Underground at September 2014, and the latest 4 were killed in haul truck run over Toyota LWB in the Grasberg area September 2014.

This shows that the working conditions under which PT Freeport Indonesia runs its mine operations are vulnerable and unsafe for workers. Or in other words, we PTFI workers are working in precarious working conditions, far from the decent work that we fight for.

As a form of concern and protest of the conditions that happen repeatedly, we, the Unit Leader of The Trade Union of Chemical, Energy and Mine Workers (CEMWU) PT Freeport Indonesia call, along with other trade union confederation iKSPSI and also our international affiliate IndustriAll Global Union, for the following:-

1. Urge the President of Indonesia to immediately ratify ILO Convention No. 176 Safety and Health for Mine Workers.
2. Urge the Chief of Police, Minister of Energy and Mineral Affairs, Minister of Labor and Transmigration to thoroughly investigate the recent workplace accident that killed 4 (four) workers, and finalize the National Human Rights Commission recommendations of the accident on the collapsed of training room at Big Gossan Mine in 2013.
3. Demand that the party responsible for this accident ensures that safety and health is handled as well as possible.
4. Urge PT Freeport Indonesia to immediately revitalize the K3 (Working Safety and Health) system to ensure no recurrence of work place accidents.
5. Urge our affiliate IndustriAll Global Union to take an international action to demand our holding company Freeport-McMoran, which is based in Phoenix Arizona USA, be responsible and take remedial action immediately.

The Unit Leader of The Trade Union of Chemical, Energy, and Mine Workers (CEMWU) SPSI PT Freeport Indonesia

Blockade on access to Freeport's Grasberg mine lifted

Raras Cahyafitri

The Jakarta Post

4 October 2014

Giant copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia has secured an agreement with protesting workers to lift a two-day blockade on the road to Freeport Indonesia's Grasberg open-pit copper mine in Papua.

"Following a discussion regarding safety in mining areas with representatives of the [protesting] employees, the access to and from the Grasberg open-pit has been re-opened," Freeport spokesperson Daisy Primayanti said in a written statement.

A number of employees held a protest and blockaded access to Grasberg following an accident in the area killing four people last week. They demanded Freeport's management take responsibility for the accident and pay more attention to work safety as accidents continued to occur in the company's mine.

Late last week, Freeport reported a collision involving an operational vehicle and a large haul truck en route to the Grasberg open-pit mine. The haul truck, which had wheels 2.2 meters high, accidently crushed the operational vehicle, which was carrying nine people.

Three of the five injured in the accident had left hospital, Daisy said. Meanwhile, two others continued to receive intensive care in Jakarta.

Figures from the mineral and coal office show that 232 mining accidents occurred last year, increasing from 216 accidents in 2012. In 2013, there were 46 fatalities, a significant increase compared to the 29 fatalities in 2012.

Last week's accident raised safety concerns at Freeport as similar accidents had occurred in the past.

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry is mulling sanctions for the company to improve its safety measures.

"When a landslide happened in Grasberg a few years ago, we asked the company to replace its mining technical head. When an accident killed 28 people last year, all the management was changed," the mineral and coal directorate general's technical and environmental director Bambang Susigit said.

The ministry's mineral and coal office has asked the company to close its open mining activities for one week for investigation. The result is expected Tuesday.

Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-based giant Freeport McMoRan Inc., had just resumed exporting last month following the implementation of a ban on mineral ore exports in early January

An export permit was finally granted after the firm and the mineral and coal office signed a memorandum of understanding with the US giant's subsidiary agreeing to amend its contract of work in Indonesia to conform to the 2009 Mining Law.

Operations at Freeport Grasberg copper mine remain blocked

Cecilia Jamasmie

2 October 2014

Open-pit operations at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold's Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia remained suspended Thursday as protesters demand management to review safety conditions following an accident on Sept. 27.

Indonesia's mining ministry has stepped in, beginning a probe into the collision involving a truck that killed four workers Saturday.

Grasberg, the world's third largest copper mine, is still shipping concentrate, or partly treated ore. However, it may remain closed for at least a week, The Jakarta Post reported Wednesday.

Analysts are not worry about the effects on the stoppage on the copper market. The company only resumed exports in early August after a seven-month tax dispute with the government, which halted shipments.

"I would expect Grasberg to have accumulated quite substantial stocks of concentrates during the first half due to the export ban, so it should take a while before these are exhausted," Nic Brown, head of commodities research at Natixis SA in London, told Bloomberg.

This is not the first time that Freeport employees had blocked the road to express their demands. In May last year they set a tent on a mine access road following a landslide in Big Gossan that killed 28 employees.

Indonesia Mine Halts Production After Four Killed in Crash

I Made Sentana and Deden Sudrajat

Wall Street Journal

27 September 2014

JAKARTA, Indonesia - The Indonesian unit of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. halted activities at the Grasberg mine Saturday after four workers were killed when a car collided with a mining truck.

"Work safety is the priority of PT Freeport Indonesia, and because of that activities at the open-pit Grasberg are suspended for investigation," the company's spokesperson Daisy Primayanti said.

Ms. Primayanti couldn't say when the company will resume operations at the open-pit mine, located in the Papua province on the island of New Guinea.

Open-pit mining is a surface mining method in which minerals are extracted from the earth by removing them from an open pit. It doesn't require tunneling.

The company said a total of nine workers were involved in the accident; five are being treated at a local hospital.

The massive mining operation has some of the world's largest copper and gold deposits. It produced 885 million pounds of copper and 1.1 million ounces of gold last year. Now the owners have their sights on ore production as well.

This is the second fatal accident this month at the mine. A boulder fell and killed a worker underground earlier this month. The company didn't halt operations over that accident.

The company was ordered by the Indonesia government to halt mining at the Grasberg mine in May of 2013 after 28 workers were killed when an underground tunnel collapsed. The accident occurred outside of production areas, but Freeport halted operations at all of its area mines.

Freeport Indonesia had stopped exports of copper concentrate for eight months in a dispute over terms with the Indonesian government. It resumed exports in August after it agreed to pay export taxes and higher royalties, and reduce the size of the concession area.

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