Freeport Declares Day of Mourning After Indonesia Mine Accident

The local unit of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. declared a day of mourning after an accident at the Grasberg complex in Indonesia killed 28, prompting the nation to order a review of all mining operations.

Memorial services will be held today at its Jakarta office and site at Papua, PT Freeport Indonesia said today in an e-mailed statement. Work at the world’s second-largest copper mine will remain suspended until after an investigation is concluded, the government said yesterday.

“We continue to grieve with the families even as we close this grim chapter,” Freeport Indonesia President Director Rozik B. Soetjipto said in the statement. “There is still much to do for us to provide the best care and support for the injured and the families of the bereaved.”

Copper in London traded near a two-week high yesterday after the accident triggered supply concerns for the metal used in pipes and wires. Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport gets about 19 percent of its copper production from its Indonesian mines and 90 percent of its gold output.

Freeport Indonesia yesterday had no update on shipments from the mine, said Daisy Primayanti, vice president of corporate communications at the local unit. The company was still shipping material produced from the mine as of May 17, the local unit said last week.

Press Conference

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered related ministries to review safety at all mines in Indonesia, Thamrin Sihite, director general of coal and minerals at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said yesterday. He said the accident at Freeport is “one of the worst accidents in Indonesia.”

The death toll of 28 compares with 31 from a blast at a coal mine in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province in June 2009. Of the 38 workers in a classroom at an underground training facility when the roof collapsed on May 14, 10 were rescued, according to Freeport Indonesia.

Richard Adkerson, chief executive officer of Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport and Freeport Indonesia’s Soetjipto are scheduled to speak to reporters today in Jakarta.

Indonesia generated $1.3 billion in operating income for Freeport last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Freeport owns 91 percent of the mine, which also produces gold, and Indonesia’s government holds the rest, according to the company’s website.

Copper production at its Indonesian operations was 315,000 metric tons in 2012, and gold output was 862,000 ounces, according to Freeport’s annual report. It had total annual copper output of 1.67 million tons and gold production of 958,000 ounces.

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