JAKARTA, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Workers at Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s Indonesian unit are blocking access to the mine site, union and company officials said on Wednesday, to protest against the number of fatal accidents at one of the world’s biggest copper mines.
Open-pit mining at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia’s Papua had been temporarily suspended since Saturday, after four workers were killed in a collision involving a truck.
Following the accident, workers began a “spontaneous” blockade early on Wednesday, Juli Parorrongan, a union spokesman said. He could not know how many staff were involved, but workers told Reuters around 500 took part in the demonstration.
There were at least three deadly accidents at the Papua complex last year, including a tunnel collapse in May that killed 28 people.
Freeport Indonesia spokeswoman Daisy Primayanti said management were holding a dialogue with the protesters to find a solution.
Freeport only resumed Indonesian exports in early August after a seven-month tax dispute with the government halted shipments.
In mid-August, the company said it had built up a 140,000-tonne stockpile and expected total copper concentrate production of 1.8 million tonnes this year, down from an earlier forecast of 2.2 million tonnes, with exports of about 700,000 tonnes.
According to union spokesman Parorrongan, protesters had made banners with the names of victims of previous accidents.
“They want the head of the company to be responsible, but I do not have clear information how many workers are involved and what their specific demands are,” he said.
Indonesia’s mining ministry expects the investigation into last week’s accident to take a week, and open-pit mining would not resume until its conclusion. (Reporting by Dennys Kapa and Michael Taylor in Jakarta and Muhammad Yamim in Timika; Editing by Ed Davies)