26 Jun 2013

Mine union member in Indonesia's Papua region says managers stood down

1:56 pm on 26 June 2013

A mine worker at the world's biggest gold and copper mine in Indonesia's Papua region says the mine company has suspended managers pending an investigation.

Darmawan Puteranto says owners Freeport McMoRan have asked four senior staff to stand down while an internal investigation continues into the causes of the tunnel collapse that killed 28 people in May.

Alex Perrottet reports.

"Freeport began operations in its open cut mine this week after receiving the green light from the government, but the underground facility is still yet to re-open. Darmawan Puteranto says most workers are back at work, and doing maintenance in the gold mine until operations can commence. He says many workers were too afraid to start work and asked the union for a letter confirming it was safe. He says the union is happy with the company's renewed commitment to safety and glad the company responded to their request to suspend four managers. Freeport had denied there were earlier concerns about safety in the tunnel and hasn't yet confirmed the managers have been stood down. Mr Puteranto also says a recent riot at the mine was caused by locals, who were used to panning for gold in the nearby river. They stormed the facility to steal ore concentrate when their source of livelihood dried up."