Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Darwin Zahedy Saleh said the ongoing workers strike at PT Freeport was causing a potential loss of 19 million US dollars per day to the US gold and copper mining company in Papua.
“The 19 million US dollar potential loss is from the value of unrealized daily sales,” the minister said at a press conference here on Friday (16/9).
In addition, the Indonesian state was also losing at an estimated rate of 6.7 million US dollars per day, he said.
Freeport produces 230,000 tons of copper concentrates daily. The concentrates contain gold and silver, apart from copper.
Minister Darwin and the ministry`s Director General of Minerals and Coal Thamrin Sihite flew to Papua immediately after the press conference.
The minister expressed optimism that the manpower and transmigration ministry would be able to help solve the problem that caused the workers strike.
“We will encourage and facilitate efforts for the solution of the problem,” Minister Darwin said.
The government was determined to maintain the current conducive investment climate, he said.
“We are not siding with any party. The workers` rights and the level of their income must be maintained,” he said.
Ramdani Sirait, a spokesman of PT Freeport, earlier said the negotiation process between the management and workers` representatives would be shifted to Jakarta, as suggested by the manpower and transmigration ministry.
“We hope there will be progress toward an agreement,” he said.
PT Freeport Indonesia currently has around 22,800 workers. The company contributed 1.9 billion US dollars in tax and non-tax payments to the state in 2010.
It has also spent capital and routine expenses amounting to 2.1 billion US dollars.
Last Thursday (Sept. 15), thousands of Freeport employees left the mining site of Tembagapura for Timika to begin a one month strike to demand a salary rise.
According to one of the giant mining company`s employees, Oktovianus Hisage, the workers` exodus started at 6 am local time.
“Some 44 employee buses carrying 60 employees have arrived in Timika, while 11 other buses are on their way to Timika where they are expected to arrive at noon,” Oktovianus said in Timika, Papua, Thursday.
Freeport`s underground mining operations have been totally halted since Wednesday at 10.30 pm local time, Oktavianus said.