Five injured in renewed attacks at Freeport-McMoRan Grasberg copper/gold mine

Date of publication: 
16 August 2009

RENO, NV – A series of attacks have resumed near Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold’s Grasberg’s mine in Indonesia’s West Papua Province, the latest reported on Sunday when five Freeport employees traveling by bus were shot at and wounded by glass shrapnel.

The official Indonesia news agency Antara said the bus was shot at on its way to the mine Sunday afternoon. Papua Police Chief Bagus Ekodanto told Antara five people were injured in Sunday’s attack.

Last Wednesday, a Freeport bus was also shot at on the Timika-Tembagapura road to the mine early in the morning.

Last month police arrested seven suspects, including two Freeport employees, who are facing murder charges a series of attacks which claimed the lives of three people near the Grasberg mine. Australian engineer Drew Nicholas Grant was killed on July 11. PT Freeport security officer Markus Rate Alo was shot on July 12, while police officer Marson was found dead on July 13.

Two of the suspects arrested worked at Grasberg, which has the world’s largest reserves of copper and the largest gold reserves. It is one of Indonesia’s largest tax payers.

Freeport President and CEO Richard Adkerson told analysts in a conference call last month the problems began last month during the Indonesian election of July 8th. On July 22nd, Adkerson said the mine and mining operations were unaffected by the attacks.

Grasberg has become a focal point of friction over its environmental impacts, the share of revenues going to the national government, and the financing of Indonesian security forces that help guard the minesite. Indigenous peoples of the remote highlands and jungles of the province have demanded autonomy for nearly half a century. There has been a substantial military presence in the area for years.

The mine has been regularly targeted by arson and bombings since the 1970s. It is also the target of regular protests.

Meanwhile, two senior Freeport employees were injured in bombings at two hotels in Jakarta’s business district last month. The employees were attending a breakfast meeting at one of the hotels. Nine people were killed in the bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels.