28 Oct 2011

Freeport forced to pay attention to labour and rights issues around Papua mine

1:00 pm on 28 October 2011

A cultural anthropologist focussing on West Papua says the US-based miner Freeport McMoran is facing unprecedented concern among Indonesians about its Papua operations.

About a third of the 23,000 workers at Freeport's Grasberg gold and copper mine in Timika have been on strike for more than a month.

They are demanding significant wage increases and better working conditions.

The strike has forced Freeport to declare force majeure on shipments from the mine.

Eben Kirksey from Columbia University in New York says for years Freeport ignored labour issues and rights abuses around its mine.

"For the very first time in history, Freeport is having to pay attention to indigenous communities who are living around the mine, and really take seriously the grievances that the Amungme people, the people who live in the mountains around the mine, and also Indonesian employees from other parts of the archipelago, all of these people are not being treated well."

Eben Kirksey at Columbia University in New York