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Govt, Freeport agree to build smelter in Papua

Friday, March 6th 2015. | Miscellaneous

Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura | Business | Fri, March 06 2015, 6:24 AM

The government and gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PT FI) have apparently agreed to build a smelter in Papua, ending uncertainty surrounding the mining giant.

The agreement was struck during a visit to Papua by Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said, who was accompanied by Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadi Muljono and lawmakers Tony Wardoyo and Wellem Wandik of the House of Representatives Commission VII.

The officials held a meeting with Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, Mimika Regent Eltinus Omaleng and PT FI president director Maroef Sjamsjoeddin at the Rimba Papua Hotel in Timika on Sunday.

Enembe said each party would take an active role in realizing the construction of a smelter in Papua.

The Papua provincial administration and related ministries will draft a national program to support the smelter construction, according to a release.

Other than preparing land for the smelter, the provincial administration and Mimika regency administration will also build an industrial zone, which will be part of the smelter construction, the release added.

“We have prepared the land and I have gathered a number of regents in Papua’s central mountain range and have agreed to help with the financing and will invest,” Enembe said.

As a follow up to the agreement, Enembe said, the energy minister would create a team to study the national capacity for managing the smelter, which would map how to continue smelter development in the future.

There has been no detailed information on the cost or time frame for the smelter or the land needed for its construction.

PT FI, a subsidiary of US copper and gold mining company Freeport-McMoRan, has been operating a mine in Papua for decades and has previously refused to build a smelter in the province, saying it would use a smelter in Gresik, East Java, in which it has a 25-percent stake.

“The agreement [to develop] a smelter in Papua is an inseparable part of national smelter development,” Sudirman told reporters in Timika as reported by Antara news agency.

“We are building national capacity and will soon establish a national study team,” he said when reading the agreement.

Sudirman added that the smelter was part of an industrial zone which was being prepared by the Papua and Mimika administrations. He added that the industrial zone would not only include the smelter but also downstream and other supporting industries.

Sudirman and Basuki surveyed the smelter’s planned location on an island off Mimika’s Poumako Port.

Basuki, according to Enembe, promised to push for an industrial zone.

“We and PT Freeport can certainly develop [an] industrial zone including the use of tailing to develop industrial-zone infrastructure,” Basuki said in the release.

Meanwhile, Maroef revealed that the decision to build a smelter in Papua was in line with national policy and was a positive step in which the issue had been politicized. He added it was part of economic discourse to push for development that is beneficial for Papua.

“For PT Freeport Indonesia, the decision to build a smelter in Papua is [part of] a series of pushes to solve the problem,” Maroef said in the release.

“We welcome the Papua provincial administration’s effort which, with the existing resources, has considered the upstream and downstream mining industries in Papua.” (nvn) (++++)

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