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Freeport-McMoRan resumes Grasberg operations after deaths

Published by MAC on 2003-11-26


Freeport-McMoRan resumes Grasberg operations after deaths

Reuters

26th November 2003

New York - Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (nyse: FCX), operator of Indonesia's giant Grasberg mine, said on Wednesday that operations there have resumed after two miners were asphyxiated on Nov. 22 by sulphur fumes in an underground tunnel used to transport ore to a nearby mill.

Other workers were injured in the incident, but all were later released from the company's medical facilities, Freeport-McMoRan said.

The deaths occurred when ore from the Grasberg surface mine contained previously unencountered concentrations of elemental sulfur and released fumes in the tunnel, the company said.

"The sulfur was located in a four-by-five meter area, in a low grade section in the outer margins of the Grasberg open pit that normally would have been mined as waste," it said.

The event did not involve PT Freeport's "deep ore zone" underground mine, the company said.

PT Freeport and Indonesia's Department of Energy and Mineral Resources inspected the area and Freeport then resumed operations after taking preventive actions aimed at avoiding a similar event in the future.

Freeport-McMoRan also said that it completed recovery efforts related to a slippage at Grasberg on Oct. 9 that killed eight workers.

The company said all material from the area affected by the slippage has been removed, and its affiliate, PT Freeport Indonesia, plans to resume normal operations in that area after it gets governmental approval, which it expects "imminently."

Freeport-McMoRan reiterated that it was on track to achieve its estimated 2003 adjusted annual sales of 1.33 billion pounds of copper and 2.45 million ounces of gold.

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