Indonesia Completes Probe Into Freeport Grasberg Tunnel Accident

An independent panel probing a tunnel accident at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia has completed the investigation and may submit a report to the government as early as this weekend.

The findings will be presented to Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik this weekend or early next week, Ridho Wattimena, head of the government-formed panel, said in a phone interview today. Freeport declared force majeure yesterday on shipments from its Grasberg operations, the world’s second-largest copper mine, after the accident that killed 28 workers last month halted operations.

The government has said the mine will remain shut until the investigation into the accident is completed. Freeport is waiting for approval from Indonesian authorities to restart operations in phases, starting with open-pit mining and processing activity, Phoenix-based Freeport said yesterday in a statement. The stoppage is reducing output by about 3 million pounds of copper (1,361 metric tons) and 3,000 ounces of gold a day, the company said.

“Our task is to find the cause and how to avoid such accidents from happening again in the future,” Wattimena said, declining to give details of the findings. “The rest will be decided by the government.”

Copper for three month delivery fell 0.8 percent to $7,060.75 on the London Metal Exchange at 5:24 p.m. Jakarta time. Futures rose as much as 1.4 percent yesterday after Freeport declared force majeure on shipments from the mine in Mimika, Papua province. Force majeure is a clause in a contract invoked by commodity suppliers when they can’t meet obligations because of circumstances beyond their control.

PT Freeport Indonesia hasn’t received results of the investigation and is waiting for instructions from the government, Vice President of Corporate Communications Daisy Primayanti, said in a mobile-phone text message.

Dede Suhendra, director of minerals at the energy ministry, said he was in a meeting and can’t comment on the probe. Virgo Solossa, head of Mimika branch of All Indonesian Workers Union in Chemical, Energy and Mining Sectors, didn’t answer two calls to his mobile-phone today.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.