Freeport may cut output up to 40%

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. is seeking government approval to continue copper concentrate exports from Indonesia next year and would have to cut output to 30 to 40 percent of the maximum if a ban is imposed, Bloomberg reported.

The company would need to lay off workers if it could not ship concentrates, said Rozik B. Soetjipto, president director at PT Freeport Indonesia. About 30,000 employees of Freeport and its contractors worked at Grasberg, he said by phone. The copper mine is the world’s second-largest.

Indonesia was planning a blanket ban on shipments of mineral ore from Jan. 12 to spur the development of the domestic processing industry, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said Thursday. Freeport produces concentrate that contains about 27 to 30 percent copper, according to its website.

“We’ve tried hard to support government policy,” Soetjipto said from Jakarta Friday. “We’re not exporting raw ore. The value of the copper in our concentrate is almost the same as that of the metal. We’re trying to persuade the government” to allow shipments, he said as quoted by Bloomberg.

Freeport expected to get the results of a feasibility study for a new smelter in January, said Soetjipto. About 50 percent of concentrate is sold to affiliated smelters Atlantic Copper in Spain and PT Smelting in Indonesia, its website says. The rest is mostly shipped to Asian buyers, it says. PT Smelting is the country’s only copper smelter.

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