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Strikers Blockade Roads Around Freeport’s Gold And Copper Mine In Indonesia +Resumes 50% Operations

October 18, 2011

Strikers Blockade Roads Around Freeport’s Gold And Copper Mine In Indonesia

By ALI KOTARUMALOS
Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Oct 18 (AP) – Thousands of striking workers
blockaded roads leading to Freeport-McMoRan Cooper & Gold Inc.’s mine
in easternmost Indonesia on Tuesday, preventing food, medicine and
other supplies from reaching holed-up staffers and their families.

Production at the mine, which holds some of the largest gold and
copper reserves in the world, was halted for a second day over
security concerns, said Ramdani Sirait, a spokesman for PT Freeport
Indonesia.

Striking workers at the Grasberg mine in Papua province are demanding
salaries equivalent to what the Phoenix-based company pays in other
countries — something analysts say they’re unlikely to get because of
the high cost of doing business in the remote, mountainous region.

Tensions soared last week when two miners were killed during clashes
with police and three others were shot dead by unidentified gunmen,
prompting Freeport to halt operations at both its underground and
open-pit mines.

It’s not clear when production will resume, said Nurhadi Sabirin, a
vice president for PT Freeport Indonesia.

The blockade around the mine and at the port has prevented Freeport
from sending supplies to replacement workers and their families, said
Sirait, the company spokesman.

"With no food or medical supplies, we’re very worried about the
condition of our employees and their families," he said. "We really
hope the government will help open this blockade."

About 90 percent of the mine’s 12,000 employees went on strike on
Sept. 15 demanding that their current salaries of between $2.10 to
$3.50 an hour be pushed to as high as $17 to $43.

But analysts say the high cost of additional infrastructure needed to
support operations in Papua’s remote and rugged Puncak Jaya mountains

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