JAKARTA. Copper giant PT Freeport Indonesia has yet to recommence open-mining operations due to new workplace safety requirements imposed by government after a recent deadly accident.
The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s technical and environment director Bambang Susigit said Freeport could resume its open-pit mining activities on the condition the company first improves its operational procedures as recommended by the ministry.
"The company is not allowed to resume mining activities until it implements our recommendations. On Thursday, Freeport is scheduled to report to us and we will evaluate whether or not to let the company resume operations," Bambang said on Tuesday.
On Sept. 27, Freeport reported a collision between an operational vehicle and a large-size haul truck end route to the Grasberg open-pit mine in Papua. The haul truck, which was 2.2 meters in height, inadvertently crushed the operational vehicle that was carrying eight passengers and a driver. Four persons died and five were injured in the accident.
Three of the five injured have been released from the hospital, Freeport Indonesia’s spokesperson Daisy Primayanti said earlier. Two others, however, remain in intensive care in Jakarta.
The ministry sent a team to investigate the accident and Freeport was asked to halt its open-pit mining activities for a week.
Following the investigation, the ministry recommended standardized operating procedures in the Grasberg mining area and those related to traffic; improved communication among mobile equipment; better coordination between supervisor and operator; and better risk identification and management of the parking area for mobile equipment.
The suspension of operations at Grasberg, one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines, is expected to further hamper Freeport’s business performance this year as open-pit mining is the biggest contributor to the firms output.
The company, which is a subsidiary of US-based giant Freeport McMoran Inc., had just resumed exports last month after reaching an agreement with the government concerning the rule that mineral ore exports could only be exported by companies that built smelters and processed domestically.
The September accident reignited debate over safety in the Freeport mining area, where several incidents - including a landslide last year that killed 28 people - have occurred in recent years.
Several employees staged a protest last week, demanding the company pay more attention to safety. The employees blocked the access road to the Grasberg mine in Papua last week, but lifted the blockade after a discussion with Freeport officials.
According to government figures, nationwide there were 232 mining accidents last year and 216 in 2012. Out of the total 232 accidents in 2013, 46 people were killed; a significant increase from the 29 fatalities recorded in 2012. (rcf)
Source : The Jakarta Post, October 08, 2014