Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia has resumed operations at the Grasberg open-pit copper-gold mine and concentrator after a tunnel collapse at an underground training facility in the Big Gossan area on May 14 killed 28 workers. The accident is one of the worst in Indonesia’s history and resulted in the operation being shut down.
Grasberg is the largest gold mine in the world and is in the remote, mountainous province of Papua. Since the disaster Freeport’s operations have been undergoing inspections by the Indonesian government. While open-pit mining has now restarted, the underground operations are expected to be phased in over time.
In a joint statement Freeport McMoRan’s chairman James Moffett and CEO Richard Adkerson said, “We again offer our deepest condolences to the families of our deceased and injured workers. We express our appreciation to the Government of Indonesia for its thorough review of these matters and reiterate our commitment to the highest international standards for worker safety. This was an unprecedented event in our more than 40-year history of operations in Papua and we are taking all actions required to prevent future incidents and to assure the safety of our workforce.
“For the period between May 15, 2013 and June 21, 2013, the estimated impact on PT Freeport Indonesia production approximated 115 million pounds of copper and 115,000 ounces of gold. The impact of the ongoing suspension of underground operations approximates 1 million pounds of copper and 1000 ounces of gold per day,” they said in their joint statement.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources approved the open-pit resumption in late June after concluding that the operation was safe. The team determined that ground movement resulting from erosion was the cause of the cave-in at the Big Gossan underground facility. PT Freeport president director Rozik Soetjipto says, “The sudden and unexpected ground failure in such a long-standing evacuated area is highly unusual.”