The world’s second-largest copper producer, Freeport McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) announced today that it has reopened the main supply route to its Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia after the road was closed following a nearby shooting incident.
According to Reuters, the incident took place on Sunday amid escalating tensions between security forces and an armed rebel group operating around the Tembagapura village, about 10 km from the mine.
The insurgents shot at an escort vehicle traveling from the lowlands but didn’t hit anyone. Nevertheless, Freeport canceled all convoys along the road while the security situation was assessed.
Authorities have declared a state of emergency and stepped up security in the area, with some 200 officers currently standing by to secure it. Since mid-August, the separatist West Papua National Liberation Army, a group linked to the Free Papua Movement, has carried out a series of shootings there saying that it is at war with police, military and Freeport.
According to the spokesman for the miner’s Indonesian unit, Riza Pratama, the latest episode and temporary closure had no impact on production at the world’s second-biggest copper mine. Pratama added that the company is working with authorities to ensure the safety of its workers and the local community, but it’s “deeply concerned” about the escalation of violence.
Freeport remains at loggerheads with the Indonesian government over selling a majority stake in the Grasberg mine, which the company has been exploiting since the early 1970s. In late August, the Phoenix Arizona-based miner agreed to a framework with Jakarta to sell 51 per cent of its Indonesian subsidiary PT-FI. In a statement accompanying the results of such negotiations, Richard Adkerson, President and CEO, said “the parties have a mutual objective of completing the required documentation during 2017.”