Freeport McMoRan has received initial authorisation to restart copper concentrate exports from Grasberg mine in Papua Province, Indonesia. The company is now obtaining a full export permit from Indonesian authorities.
Indonesia halted Freeport’s copper concentrate exports in January under new rules requiring the US-based company to adopt a special licence, pay new taxes and royalties, divest a 51% stake in its operations and relinquish arbitration rights.
This move prompted Freeport’s Indonesian subsidiary, PT Freeport Indonesia, to limit production from the mine and this was subsequently halted altogether.
Hopes of resuming exports from Grasberg and achieving full production again have improved since the end of March, when the mining minister said a temporary licence would be granted while discussions on longer-term issues continued.
“We have approval for exports and are working on finalising an export permit,” PT Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama told Reuters earlier this week.
An earlier recommendation for Freeport to export up to 1.1 million tonnes of concentrate will still apply but Director General of Coal and Minerals Bambang Gatot recently said that the company still needed an export permit from the Trade Ministry.
The deal is expected to allow Freeport to export copper concentrate for six months, while working to reach agreement with the government on the other disputed issues.
The stoppage has resulted in thousands of layoffs and cost both sides hundreds of millions of dollars. In February Freeport served notice, saying it has the right to commence arbitration in 120 days if no agreement is reached.
Grasberg produces more than 25% of Freeport’s total output and before the current problems it was set contribute an even greater proportion as copper grades improve and gold production is boosted.
In 2016, the mine produced in excess of 500,000 tonnes of copper and more than 1 million ounces of gold.