Timika, Jubi/Antara – The Indonesian government and copper and gold miner PT Freeport Indonesia have agreed to build a smelter in Timika industrial estate, Papua province.
The agreement was reached after Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said, Public Works and Housing Minister Hadi Muljono and entourage paid a two-day visit in the easternmost Indonesian province on Saturday and Sunday (February 14 to 15).
During the visit, Sudirman Said held talks with a number of stakeholders, including Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, members of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR RI), members of the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP), members of the Papua Legislative Council (DPR), Mimiki District Head Eltinus Omaleng and PT Freeport Indonesia President Director Maroef Sjamsuddin.
The minister told reporters at Rimba Papua Hotel in Timika on Sunday that the construction of the smelter in Papua was an integral part of national smelter development program.
“What we are going to build is national capacity and therefore, a national study team will soon be set up,” he said.
The construction of the smelter in Papua was part of the development of an industrial estate that the Papua provincial government and the Mimika district government were preparing, he said.
Not only the smelter but also upstream industries and other supporting industries would be built in the industrial estate, he said.
Sudirman further said the Papua provincial government was gearing up for the construction of a cement packing plant near Paumako port in Timika.
In the future, the cement packing plant would be developed into a cement factory to meet rising demand in Papua, he said.
Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-based Freeport-McMoRan Inc., has been operating the Grasberg mine in Papua since the 1970s.
The company sells most of the copper concentrate produced from its Grasberg operation overseas and only sends roughly 40 percent of its production to PT Smelting Gresik, which operates the only copper smelter in the country. Freeport Indonesia has a 25-percent stake in Smelting Gresik.
Following the implementation of the 2009 Mining Law, the government started on Jan. 12 last year to ban the export of mineral ore. Consequently, Freeport Indonesia has to process all of its semi-finished copper concentrate into the end product, copper cathode, in domestic smelters.
To develop the smelter and industrial estate, the Public Works and Housing Ministry had expressed full support to match its programs with the national spatial planning.
PT Freeport said it will support the Public Works and Housing Ministry’s plan to break the isolation of several areas by developing roads to Ilaga, Puncak district and Supaga Intan Jaya. (*)