Jakarta – The Commission VII of the House of Representatives on Wednesday visited copper smelter PT Smelting in Gresik, East Java, during which the lawmakers praised the progress of its expansion.
The smelter is now adding refinery cells and increasing its power to 40.45 megawatts. This will drive up PT Smelting's concentrate processing capacity from 1 million dry metric tons (dmt) to 1.3 million dmt per year.
This will boost the smelter's output from the existing 300,000 tons to 350,000 tons of copper cathode per year. The expansion of the copper smelting facility is now 76 percent complete, according to a Freeport Indonesia press release.
Commission VII deputy chair Bambang Haryadi said that PT Smelting demonstrated Freeport Indonesia's commitment to driving Indonesia's downstream mining industry.
"The PT Smelting expansion is progressing quite well. If we did not have the pandemic, I think [the smelter] would have been ready," Bambang said.
"So we can see that Freeport's smelter construction is going quite smoothly. But all of us know how the pandemic over the past two years has been getting in the way," Bambang added.
Commission VII plans to engage in discussions with smelter makers, particularly Freeport and Antam, to find a solution to the Covid-19 impact on the smelting facility construction.
The smelter expansion began in 2022 and is slated to finish in Nov. 2023. This will then continue with an increase in processing capacity until Dec. 2023. PT Smelting will be able to operate at a new capacity in early 2024.
With a $250 million (Rp 3.2 trillion) investment, Freeport Indonesia's shares in PT Smelting will grow from 39.5 percent to 65 percent. The remaining 35 percent of shares will go to PT Mitsubishi Material Corporation.
According to Freeport Indonesia president director Tony Wenas, PT Smelting's processing capacity is in line with the government's downstream program.
"This support, coupled with the added values from an increased investment and employment, is part of our effort to continue contributing for the advancement of the country regardless of where we are operating," Tony said.
Freeport Indonesia is now working on its second smelter at the Java Integrated Industrial and Port Estate (JIIPE) in Manyar, Gresik. This smelter has reached a 56.5 percent completion mark and is expected to finish in Dec. 2023. This smelting facility will be able to process up to 1.7 million dmt of copper concentrates and produce 550,000 tons of copper cathodes per year.
By having two smelters, Freeport Indonesia will be able to refine up to 3 million copper concentrate dmt per year, while also meeting the mandate of the special mining business permit on smelter construction.
"Operating two smelters will enable Freeport Indonesia to refine all copper concentrates in the archipelago, but also reinforce Indonesia's position as a world-class copper producer. Indonesia will not only be known as one of the top copper-producing countries. But [Indonesia] will also [take the lead] from a qualitative standpoint, as a copper industry that is integrated from the upstream to the downstream," Tony said.