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PT Freeport’s Grasberg restarts underground mining

Keywords: Tags  PT Freeport Indonesia, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, copper mine, Grasberg mine, underground mining, Daisy Primayanti, Shivani Singh

SINGAPORE — PT Freeport Indonesia Tbk has restarted underground mining operations at its Grasberg Mine in the West Papua province of Indonesia, two months after a tunnel collapse led to a suspension of operations.

"Yesterday we received an official letter from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources approving the production start at the underground mine," Daisy Primayanti, vice president of corporate communications, told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin July 10.

Earlier in June, PT Freeport Indonesia said it had restarted open-pit mining and mill operations at the Grasberg copper mine (, June 24).

"We had only two shipments after the production resumption of the open-pit mine: one in early June to China and then in early July to Gresik (smelter in Indonesia)," Primayanti said.

The shipments of copper concentrate were about 9,000 tonnes in June and 23,000 to 24,000 tonnes in early July, she said, adding that Grasberg normally averages 10 shipments per month.

PT Freeport Indonesia usually produces about 220,000 tonnes of ore per day, with about 140,000 tonnes from the open-pit mine and 80,000 tonnes from underground mining operations, local media and analysts have said.

Jakarta-based PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., declared force majeure on Grasberg’s concentrate shipments after an accident at the site saw operations temporarily suspended (, June 12).

"The force majeure situation has not (been) resolved," Primayanti said, adding that the company hadn’t yet reached targeted monthly shipments.

The ramp-up to full capacity at the underground mine "may take one month," she said. "(The ramp-up) depends on many things, one of which is getting all workers back to work. Most miners haven’t come to work (Wednesday)."

Grasberg is one of the world’s largest copper-gold mines, employing more than 24,000 workers.

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

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