18 Oct 2011

US mining operation in Papua suspends operations after suspected sabotage

9:21 am on 18 October 2011

The Indonesian unit of the US mining giant Freeport McMoRan announced yesterday that it has suspended operations in West Papua amid suspicions a pipe had been sabotaged.

A blockade by striking workers is also continuing.

The Jakarta Globe reports a spokesperson for the company, Nurhadi Sabirin, saying the halt, which concerned both the Grasberg gold and copper mine and underground operations, is because of sabotage.

He says the company's pipe network, which carries gold and copper concentrate from the processing centre to the port, was tampered with and damaged.

Mr Sabirin says all operations have been stopped because the work environment is unsafe.

The company would not comment on who was suspected of damaging the pipe, but Freeport workers have been striking for weeks in a demand for better working conditions and higher pay.

Two of the protesting workers have now died as a result of clashes with police and security in Timika on Monday last week.