Freeport-McMoRan’s (FCX) CEO went out of his way recently to tell reporters and analysts that the situation at his company’s gigantic Grasberg mine in Indonesia is “stabilizing.” During the company’s first-quarter conference call, Richard Adkerson said that production at Grasberg is up and labor relations are improved, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Adkerson didn’t say that things were back to normal at Grasberg, or that production was back to normal. Instead, he just said, “We are seeing progress in returning to normal operations.” Adkerson was addressing labor troubles at the massive copper and gold mine in Papua, New Guinea, that led to a three-week shutdown in March and a three-month strike last year. The troubles involve demands for wage increases and claims that miners have not received pay. Freeport is now milling around 200,000 tons of ore a day at Grasberg. This is a 50,000-ton a day increase. The rate had fallen to 150,000 tons a day because of the labor troubles there.
One issue Adkerson didn’t address was violence in the area around Grasberg. The Jakarta Globe, an Indonesian newspaper, has reported that gunmen suspected of being local rebels are shooting at Freeport aircraft and convoys on roads in the area. Indonesian police haven’t been able to deal with the situation and have had to call in the nation’s army for help. The level of violence could be worse than has been reported elsewhere. The Huffington Post’s Michelle Chen reports that there have 15 shooting deaths at Grasberg since 2009.To continue reading, click here.