JAKARTA, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s Indonesian unit can resume open-pit mining at its Grasberg complex, one of the world’s biggest copper mines, after it agreed to improve safety following a fatal accident last month, a government official said on Monday.
Hundreds of angry protesters blocked access for two days in early October to the open-pit area of the copper complex, where production had been halted following the death of four workers on Sept. 27. That area accounts for more than half of the mine’s output.
Indonesia’s mine ministry investigated the accident and then asked the Arizona-based firm to propose safety changes and policies last Thursday.
These changes did not satisfy government officials, who asked Freeport to resubmit within two days. This has now been done and the miner has been given the green light to resume open-pit mining, said Bambang Susigit, a senior mines ministry official.
“We have agreed Freeport can resume operations at Grasberg,” Susigit told Reuters, adding the company must implement four key safety improvements at the Papua mine.
Open-pit mining remained suspended on Monday, Freeport Indonesia CEO Rozik Soetjipto told Reuters in a text message, adding the company was still waiting for the decision from the director-general at the mines ministry. He said he hoped to receive notice of that decision soon.
Freeport workers involved in the blockade, which was not supported by labour unions, are still seeking talks with local management following the accident. Union officials could not be reached for comment on Monday. (Reporting by Dennys Kapa; Additional reporting by Michael Taylor; Editing by Alan Raybould)