Indonesia is expected to temporarily exempt Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s Indonesian subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia from some new rules while processing an application for new mining rights. The move will potentially allow for resumption of copper concentrate exports.
The government’s move follows a warning from Freeport that the halt to its shipments since the new mining rules took effect on January 12 could lead to a sharp drop in output at its Grasberg mine in Papua province.
“While their special mining licence is not definitive, we cannot apply (these rules) fully,” coal and minerals director general Bambang Gatot told Reuters this week.
It was not clear which of the new rules, which require Freeport to pay more taxes and divest a 51% stake, the company would be temporarily exempted from.
Mining Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Monday that Freeport could be issued with a temporary permit within one or two days while the government decided on the company’s application for a new special mining licence. He said a temporary permit would also allow Freeport to resume concentrate exports.
Last week the minister said Freeport would need to convert its contract of work to a new special mining licence before being allowed to resume exports, as part of Indonesia's push to develop domestic industries under the new rules.
A PT Freeport Indonesia spokesman later said the company would only adopt the new mining rules after obtaining “a stability agreement providing the same rights and the same level of legal and fiscal certainty provided under its contract of work”.
“(Freeport) has requested that concentrate exports be permitted while the new licence and stability agreement are negotiated,” he said.
Freeport is one of Indonesia’s biggest taxpayers, paying more than $16 billion in taxes, royalties, dividends and other payments between 1992 and 2015.