Freeport Restarts Open-Pit Operations at Indonesian Copper Mine

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX) has restarted some operations at its Grasberg complex in Indonesia, the world’s second-largest copper mine, after a May 14 accident that killed 28 and halted output.

The company is slowly resuming operations after work began again at the Grasberg open-pit and mill on May 28, Phoneix-based Freeport’s local unit said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Mine inspectors from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources completed a preliminary investigation of the accident and issued recommendations to the company, Freeport said.

The mine may reach a full production rate of 140,000 metric tons of ore a day in three to four days, Rozik B. Soetjipto, president director of local unit PT Freeport Indonesia, said yesterday in Jakarta. Freeport hasn’t got approval yet to restart its underground mine, he said.

The halt came one month after Rio Tinto Group suspended its Bingham Canyon mine in Utah following a landslide. Copper in London retreated yesterday as concerns for reduced supplies of the metal eased.

Freeport is performing maintenance on the underground operations at Grasberg and expects to ramp up production after authorities have completed inspections, it said in the statement yesterday. Freeport Indonesia is still shipping some concentrate, Soetjipto said.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP)’s Escondida mine in Chile is the largest copper mine.

To contact the reporters on this story: Berni Moestafa in Jakarta at bmoestafa@bloomberg.net; Eko Listiyorini in Jakarta at elistiyorini@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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