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Freeport to focus on developing smelter, underground mine

Jakarta Post - December 24, 2018

Jakarta – Following the divestment deal and the 20-year contract extension, gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) plans to focus on develop a smelter and the underground mine at its Grasberg facility in Papua.

Freeport McMoRan CEO Richard Adkerson said the government had underlined the importance of constructing the smelter as stated in the definitive special mining permit (IUPK), which allows PTFI to extend its operational contract to 2041.

"We are committed to complete the [smelter] construction within five years," Adkerson said as quoted by kontan.co.id, adding that Freeport would invest US$20 billion toward its mining operations and development until 2041.

PTFI corporate communications vice president Riza Pratama said that a major part of the fund would go toward developing Grasberg's underground mine.

PTFI president director Tony Wenas stressed the importance of developing the underground mine, because the open-pit mine was expected to be depleted in 2019. "As much as $14 billion has been added to the underground mine's development until 2041," said Tony.

State-owned mining holding company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum), the new majority shareholder of PTFI, confirmed Riza's statement.

Inalum head of corporate communications Rendi A. Witoelar expressed hope that the three-year transition would proceed smoothly. "As Grasberg is the most complicated mine in the world, it is important for Inalum to ensure that there will be no disruption to its operations during the transition period," he added.

As for the smelter, Riza declined to provide detailed information on its investment, location and construction, any maintenance partners or its production capacity.

Riza also declined to comment on a report that PTFI would be cooperating with gold and copper miner PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara, which was said to be building a new 2.6 million-ton smelter on Sumbawa.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced on Friday that Indonesia was now the majority owner of PTFI after its shares were increased from 9.36 percent to 51.23 percent through a US$3.85 billion, prolonged divestment process. (das/bbn)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/24/freeport-to-focus-on-developing-smelter-underground-mine.html