JAKARTA – All work has stopped at Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s giant copper mine in Indonesia and its workers are planning a demonstration against the government’s move last month that halted exports of copper concentrate to boost domestic industries, a union said.
A prolonged stoppage at the world’s second-biggest copper mine would support copper prices, near 21-month highs this week, but would also deny the Indonesian government desperately needed revenue from one of its biggest taxpayers.
Freeport had said the Grasberg mine would have to slash output by 60 percent to approximately 70 million pounds of metal per month if it did not get an export permit by mid-February, due to limited storage.
But a strike at Freeport’s sole domestic offtaker of copper concentrate, PT Smelting, expected to last at least until March, has limited Freeport’s output options, and Grasberg’s storage sites are now full.
“Everything has stopped completely. It’s just maintenance now,” Freeport Indonesia worker union chief Virgo Solossa told Reuters on Thursday, stopping short of saying how many of an estimated 33,000 workers had been sent home.
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