21 Mar 2003

Security boosted at Freeport mine in Papua following start of Iraq war

2:37 pm on 21 March 2003

The US-owned Freeport mine in Indonesia's Papua province says secuirty has been further boosted at its giant Grasberg copper and gold mine after the start of the US-led war on Iraq.

A Freeport spokesman says Indonesia's government has promised to increase security for vital projects like the Grasberg mine.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country and opposition to the US campaign against Iraq is widespread, with many analysts predicting the war could trigger violence by extremists in the country.

Security around Freeport, mainly provided by soldiers, was reinforced last year after two US teachers and one Indonesian were killed near the mine.

Freeport has revealed this week that it has been making substantial payments to the Indonesian army for protection, paying 5.6 million US dollars to the military in 2002.

2,300 soldiers now guard Freeport's mining sites and are being paid 40 US dollars a month..