Jakarta. Indonesia has extended a temporary operating permit for Freeport McMoRan's Grasberg copper mine in Papua until the end of the month while discussions continue over long-term rights, a Mining Ministry official said.
The United States-based mining giant's local unit, Freeport Indonesia, was given a temporary operating permit until July 31 for Grasberg, the world's second-biggest copper mine, Coal and Minerals Director General Bambang Gatot Ariyono said at a press conference on Tuesday (03/07).
Freeport has been in negotiations with Indonesia to secure long-term operating rights at Grasberg after the government introduced new rules last year aimed at giving it greater control of its resources.
However, efforts to finalize a deal have been overshadowed by concerns over Grasberg's environmental footprint.
"This month we hope all of the aspects – the divestment transaction, investment stability guarantees, the environment, a smelter – all of them are resolved," Gatot said.
Freeport's previous temporary operating permit for Grasberg expired on June 30 after being awarded in January.
Freeport's Grasberg partner Rio Tinto and state-owned mining holding company Inalum are also involved in negotiations on Grasberg, which needs significant investment to develop an underground phase from its current open-pit construction.
Inalum may complete a multi-billion-dollar deal to acquire a majority stake in Grasberg this month, officials said on Saturday, but details on how Freeport will maintain operational control have yet to emerge.
According to Gatot, the main issues to be resolved were environmental matters, and discussions were ongoing "between the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Freeport team and Inalum, who have requested an opportunity to resolve them."
Other matters, which include a requirement for Freeport to build a second copper smelter and adopt a new tax regime, "are nearly finalized," he said.
A 2017 state audit of operations at Grasberg that outlined massive damage from Freeport's mine waste and a lack of proper environmental permits has complicated efforts to wrap up the deal.
In April, following the audit, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar issued two decrees that gave Freeport six months to overhaul management of its mine waste.
Freeport's average daily copper ore production at Grasberg was between 175,000 and 176,000 metric tons so far this year, below its 2018 target of 230,000 tons, Gatot said.
The company exported 465,000 tons of copper concentrate from February to mid-June, he added.