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Mining still suspended at Grasberg mine as death toll rises

Keywords: Tags  PT Freeport Indonesia, Grasberg, Freeport-McMoRan, copper, gold, accident, Shivani Singh

SINGAPORE — Mining operations were suspended for a second day at PT Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg copper and gold mine as the company confirmed the death of five workers in a tunnel collapse the day before.

A total of 39 workers were trapped under the debris after the tunnel in an underground training facility collapsed. So far, 11 people have been rescued and another 23 miners are still unaccounted for, PT Freeport Indonesia said May 15. All the rescued workers are in stable condition, the company said.

"Rescuers have been working around the clock for two days now and they continue to strive to reach the rest of our trapped colleagues in the shortest time possible," PT Freeport Indonesia president director Rozik B. Soetjipto said in a statement.

Soetjipto visited the site May 15 along with Thamrin Sihite, Indonesia’s director-general of mines and energy, the company said.

The company, a subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., has flown in four psychologists trained in trauma counseling, according to the statement.

PT Freeport Indonesia called the work stoppage a "temporary suspension" during the rescue and recovery period. Wage negotiation talks with workers have also been put on hold, the company said.

Grasberg is one of the world’s largest copper-gold mines. It employs over 24,000 workers. 

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

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