Arjuna Pademme, Jayapura – Papuan Legislative Council member Yonas Alfon Nusi urged the Indonesian government and PT Freeport Indonesia to explain to the Papuan people the reason behind its plan to build a copper smelter in Gresik Regency, East Java, instead of in Papua.
He said that the smelter construction was indeed a national strategic policy but, explaining to the people why the smelter is built on the island of Java would be a nice gesture, especially because Freeport itself operates its copper mines in Papua. "So why building the smelter in other areas?" Nusi told Jubi on Thursday, October 14, 2021.
"The government and PT Freeport Indonesia should explain to the people, as well as Papuan stakeholders, the reasons for the construction of smelters outside Papua," he said.
He asked the government not to view such opinions of various parties in Papua regarding the construction of the smelter in Gresik as an act of resistance to the state.
"The people only want to know whether it's due to the terrain? Is there any environmental concern, or anything else?" said Nusi.
Such explanation from Freeport and the government, Nusi said, was important so that the Papuans did not feel neglected by the state. "I'm asking the government and the company on behalf of the Papuan people," he said.
Earlier last week, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo attended the groundbreaking ceremony of Freeport's smelter construction in Gresik. The smelter, to be built on an area of 100 hectares, will be the largest single line smelter in the world, able to process 1.7 million tons of copper concentrate each year and with an investment value of Rp 42 trillion (US$2.94 billion).
Jokowi said the smelter would strengthen the country's downstream mining industry. He hoped for more investment in the future, especially from the copper derivative industry.
Meanwhile, Freeport's president director Tony Wenas said that the smelter construction was in line with the company's Special Mining Business License. The license is valid until 2041.