Threat to blockade Freeport-McMoran's massive Grasberg copper-gold mine

Date of publication: 
21 December 2009

TIMIKA, Indonesia – Tribal leaders in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province on Monday threatened to blockade Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc’s (FCX.N) huge mine after police killed a separatist commander last week.

Kelly Kwalik had led a militant wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and was one of the members who had campaigned against the presence of Freeport, which operates the Grasberg copper and gold mine.

The OPM has waged a low-level insurgency against the Indonesian government for four decades.

About 700 people gathered on Monday outside the local parliament building in Timika where Kwalik’s body was kept, awaiting burial, and threatened to disrupt activity at the mine if Freeport’s chairman, James (Jim) Moffett, did not come to Timika to pay his respects to Kwalik.

“Moffett must come and follow the burial, if not the burial must be delayed and Freeport must be closed down,” men and women shouted outside parliament.

Timika is the main town near Freeport’s huge Grasberg mine, which accounts for nearly 40% of Freeport’s total copper reserves of 93 billion pounds, and boasts the world’s largest gold reserves. (Reporting by Samuel Wanda in Timika, Writing by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Sara Webb and Sugita Katyal