Green signal for some Freeport operations

The Indonesian government has given approval for Freeport McMoRan to resume some operations at the world’s second biggest copper mine, according to a senior company official.

The government approved the resumption of operations late Friday after state officials concluded their investigation, according to an energy ministry spokesman.

The company, based in Arizona, has gradually started open-pit mining at its Grasberg site in eastern Indonesia, more than a month after a tunnel collapse killed 28 people.

“The open-pit is already allowed to be open,” Freeport Indonesia president director Rozik Soetjipto told Reuters.

“At the beginning of course, there will only be a very, very small amount of production because we have to prepare everything and gradually increase production.”

Underground production has not resumed.  

The Indonesian government began contemplating the reopening of the mine last week after Freeport wrote a letter asking permission to resume open-pit.

Government officials were investigating the tunnel collapse and the final report was given to the Minerals Ministry on Monday.

Union miners are returning to Grasberg mine for work. They comprise of three-quarters of the 24,000 Freeport workers.

“What we are doing now is mainly maintaining the mine and equipment because it has been left by workers for a period of time,” union spokesman Juli Parorrongan said.

Freeport had to declare force majeure on consignments as the closure of the mine extended.

Earlier this month, a government official said the mine cannot resume production at the copper mine until investigations are completed. It had said this could take two months.

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