MAC: Mines and Communities

Freeport Indonesia union to go on one-month strike

Published by MAC on 2014-10-31
Source: Statement, Reuters,

Freeport Indonesia union to go on one-month strike


27 October 2014

JAKARTA - Workers at Freeport-McMoRan Inc's giant Indonesian copper mine will hold a one-month strike from next week, a union official said on Monday, after the company failed to make changes to local management following a fatal accident.

Hundreds of angry protesters blocked access for two days in early October to the open-pit area of the Grasberg complex, where production was temporarily suspended following the death of four workers on Sept. 27.

Three Freeport unions have agreed to take strike action from Nov.6 until Dec. 6, Albar Sabang, a senior official at a Freeport union, told Reuters on Monday, and are demanding changes to the local management. Sabang's union has about 9,100 members.

"The purpose of the strike is of course to stop production so there will be pressure for the Freeport Indonesia management to answer to our demands," Sabang told Reuters by text.

Freeport, which employs around 24,000 workers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Dennys Kapa; Additional reporting by Michael Taylor)

Time for Rio Tinto to end dead silence on Grasberg fatalities

IndustriALL statement

31 October 2014

IndustriALL Global Union is calling on Rio Tinto to speak publicly about what it will do to end the string of deaths at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia. The mine is now facing a strike over safety concerns.

IndustriALL’s Indonesian affiliate CEMWU has announced it will begin a one-month strike at the mine on 6 November due to mine management not being held responsible for the fatalities. Five miners died at the copper and gold mine in September. This brings the total number of workers killed at the mine over the last two years to a staggering 38.

Rio Tinto has invested over a billion dollars in the Grasberg mine and serves on its operating, technical and sustainable development committees. The mine is majority-owned by Freeport.

“Rio Tinto made no public statement following two recent fatal incidents at Grasberg. This is unacceptable for a company that says safety of its workers is core to everything it does,” says IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan.

It appears the company’s public silence is part of an attempt to keep its name out of press reports on the fatalities. But it’s time for Rio Tinto to own up to its failure and speak openly about what the company will do to ensure these disasters never happen again.

IndustriALL has raised workplace safety concerns with Rio Tinto on a number of times since a tunnel collapse killed 28 workers at Grasberg in May 2013.

“Rio Tinto has claimed to us in private that Freeport, not Rio Tinto, manages Grasberg, but that they are now helping Freeport to improve safety performance. However, given Rio Tinto’s huge stake in the mine it’s simply not credible to deny any responsibility for the deaths,” states Özkan.

“And why should we believe Rio Tinto will all of a sudden help make the mine safe, given they’ve invested in the mine for nearly 20 years? It’s no wonder that Rio Tinto has avoided public discussion of worker deaths at Grasberg.”

IndustriALL is not the first organization to hold Rio Tinto accountable for irresponsible practices at Grasberg. Norway’s state-owned pension fund sold its entire $850 million stake in Rio Tinto in 2008 because Grasberg discharges huge amounts of tailings directly into a natural river system. In 2006 the fund sold its stake in Freeport for the same reason.

Özkan says:

With bodies piling up and a strike imminent, Rio Tinto needs to stop hiding behind Freeport and take a more active and public role in making Grasberg a safe place to work.

Freeport-McMoRan's profit down 32% amid lower copper, gold prices

Cecilia Jamasmie

28 October 2014

Freeport-McMoRan, the U.S. largest miner by market value and revenue, reported Tuesday a 32% drop in quarterly profit, as weaker average prices for copper, gold and oil weighed on revenue.

The Phoenix-based company, which also has oil and gas assets, logged a profit of $562 million, or 53 cents a share, down from $830 million, or 79 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest period included net charges of 11 cents a share for items such as accounting adjustments and asset sales gains. The year-earlier period included nine cents a share of derivatives-related charges. Revenue fell 7.6% to $5.7 billion.

Gold sales rose to 525 thousand ounces from 305 thousand ounces, and production of the precious metal surged to 449,000 ounces from 327,000 ounces a year ago. However prices fell to $1,220 per ounce from $1,329 per ounce in the period.

Copper production dipped slightly to 1.03 billion pounds from 1.06 billion pounds a year earlier, despite the long-dragged dispute between the miner and Indonesia, where Freeport operates Grasberg, the world's third largest copper mine.

Only yesterday unionized workers reported that some 10,000 employees at the mine would begin a month-long strike next week to protest recent fatal accidents at Grasberg, sending shares lower.

The company’s shares have fallen about 20% since the beginning of the year.


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