Indonesia: Protests escalate in support of govt. move to nationalise Freeport-McMoran mine; company threatens arbitration if regulations are implemented
Freeport-McMoran operates Grasberg, the world's biggest gold mine, in Mimika Regency at the Papua province of Indonesia. The company is American owned and operated. When it started operating in 1967, the Suharto-led government granted the company a decade-long tax holiday and a reprieve from paying royalties.
In February of 2017, the government sought to implement provisions of the 2009 mining law and in effect, required Freeport to participate in efforts to move resource exports higher up in the value chain from just raw materials by building a US$2.9 billion smelter. The government also required Freeport-McMoran to divert the majority of its shares to Indonesian ownership within 10 years. Pursuant to the law, Indonesian officials, led by Mines and Energy Minister Ignasius Jonan, are pressuring the company to convert its contract to a "Special Business License".
Freeport-McMoran, arguing that all these new regulations violate their contract, have threatened to sue the government for damages, through an arbitration case. In February 2017, it started to dismiss tens of thousands of workers and is currently operating at only 40% of its capacity.
Protests continue to occur, with participants calling for the shutdown of the company and its eventual nationalisation, and asking that revenues be used to meet basic needs of Indonesians.
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Indonesia: Freeport McMoran abruptly suspends operations in West Papua over contract dispute with govt.; hundreds of workers laid off
Author: Krithika Varagur, Voice of America
“Showdown in Indonesia Brings World’s Biggest Gold Mine to Standstill”, 27 Feb 2017
The American mining company Freeport-McMoRan has brought the world's biggest gold mine, in the Indonesian province of West Papua, to a standstill. The corporation is butting heads with the Indonesian government over protectionist mining regulations. And now that Freeport has started to dismiss tens of thousands of workers, the local economy is poised to take a huge hit. In Mimika Regency, the West Papua province containing the Grasberg gold mine, 91 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is attributed to Freeport.
…The freeze was a reaction to a shakeup in Freeport’s 30-year contract with the Indonesian government, signed in 1991. Indonesia has tried to levy additional obligations from Freeport in an attempt to increase domestic revenue from its natural resources. Freeport retaliated last week by threatening to pursue arbitration and sue the government for damages….
“I suspect that, because they may lose their jobs, many employees will want to stage demonstrations… but then, ironically, they will be laid off because that’s the state policy. I think this whole situation is a human rights violation,” said Gobai [a member of the Papua parliament].
“Violence is a very big possibility,” said Andreas Harsono, a Human Rights Watch researcher. “Timika is…the location of more than 3,500 security officers stationed along the 90-mile mining road, not to say Papuan guerrillas and hundreds of military deserters, all looking for a slice of the gold and copper mine. Shooting along the road is a regularity rather than an irregularity….
Indonesia: Protesters demand for nationalisation of Freeport-McMoran Grasberg mine; operations down to 40% capacity
Author: Jon Emont, New York Times
"Foreigners Have Long Mined Indonesia, but Now There's an Outcry", 31 March 2017
...Scores of protesters gathered outside the Jakarta offices of an American mining giant...chanting, waving signs and throwing uncertainty into global commodities markets.
The traditional garb was meant to make it clear whom they represented: the people of West Papua, site of Freeport-McMoran's Grasberg mine-- one of the world's largest sources of gold and copper. Their shouted slogans made it equally clear what they wanted.
"Freeport must be shut down!" the crowd chanted...
“Freeport hasn’t brought prosperity. It’s just destroyed the natural environment,” said Surya Anta, national coordinator for the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua...
Billions of dollars' worth of metal is produced at the mighty Grasberg mine, which provides jobs in a province with few other prospects...
...The government has in recent years passed regulations intended to exert greater control over mine operators. Freeport says those requirements violate the company's 1991 contract, which lasts until 2021 and which it wants to renew.
...Until the dispute is resolved, the Grasberg mine will run at about 40 percent capacity; without a licensing deal, the Indonesian government will not allow Freeport to export unprocessed minerals...
“It is in the best interests of all stakeholders to receive a resolution in these matters,” Richard Adkerson, the chief executive of Freeport, said in a written statement to The New York Times...
Indonesia: Freeport-Mcmoran withdraws health care benefits of laid off workers; 10 have died due to lack of access to hospital services
Author: RNZ Pacific
"Ten people die in Papua during mine labour dispute", 16 August 2017
An Australian miners' union says 10 people have died in Indonesia's Papua province due to a labour dispute at the Grasberg mine.
The strike was in response to the threat of layoffs after mining was disrupted by a dispute between the government and the company.
Freeport said that the workers were considered to have resigned because they violated their contracts.
Andrew Vickers of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said health rights for the redundant workers and education for their children had been withdrawn by Freeport.
Mr Vickers said 10 people died after being rejected by a hospital due to a lack of healthcare coverage.