This file photograph taken on Aug. 16, 2013, shows a heavy machinery vehicle collecting rocks with ore deposits at Freeport-McMoRan’s Grasberg mining complex in Papua. (AFP Photo/Olivia Rondonuwu)

Freeport Faces Class Action Over Smelter


FEBRUARY 02, 2015

Jakarta. Four activists from ProDem, an activist group, filed a citizen lawsuit against President Joko Widodo and Freeport Indonesia, the local unit of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, at the Central Jakarta district Court on Monday for allegedly failing to comply with the 2009 Mining Law’s requirement on domestic smelting.

The lawsuit includes a demand that could disrupt Freeport Indonesia’s production process for at least two months.

People Lawyers Union, or SPR, acted as the counsel for the four plaintiffs, namely Arief Poyuono, Kisman Latumakulita, Iwan Sumule and Haris Rusly. ProDem is a network of activists from organizations that advocate for democracy around Indonesia.

Arief, who is also the chairman of the State-owned Enterprises Labor Union, said they want the court to “cancel Freeport Indonesia’s permit extension to export concentrate for six months and its contract extension.”

The plaintiff said that based on the 2009 Mining Law, Freeport Indonesia should have had a smelter by 2014. Instead, it last month secured the export permits after renting land in East Java, on which it would build its smelter by as soon as 2018.

“The permits show there was a discrimination from the government against Indonesian businesses and corporations. Local mining companies abide by the law. So why did the government give Freeport Indonesia a privilege?” Arief said.

The plaintiffs also demanded the court  halt Freeport Indonesia’s exports or mining activities pending the lawsuit, which will take at least two months to hear.

SPR have represented several failed class actions in the past, including one that challenged then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for raising the price of subsidized fuel in 2008.

SPR also represented a class action against Freeport Indonesia in 2013, over the deaths of employees in an underground training facility accident.

Alvon Kurnia Palma, chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), said the legal complaint could potentially disrupt the production process at Freeport Indonesia.

“The court can always ask the government to stop the export activity,” Alvon said.

The vice president for corporate communications at Freeport Indonesia, Daisy Primayanti, did not respond to requests for comment.