13 Jun 2013

Papua mine still closed for repairs, but company says it's safe

6:04 pm on 13 June 2013

The Grasberg mine in Indonesia's remote Papua province remains closed for repairs after the deadly tunnel collapse last month.

The company is defending its safety record, while the results from a government investigation into the collapse are yet to be released.

Freeport's Communications President Daisy Primayanti denies there were safety complaints prior to the collapse which claimed 28 lives.

She spoke to Alex Perrottet:

DAISY PRIMAYANTI: We are conducting internal police inspections. From, I think, 16 May we have completed our own internal safety inspections, especially for areas where the density of our workers generally are. In general, the facilities that we have are safe for people and it's safe for people to have activities there, but there are also areas that are still closed for further inspection.

ALEX PERROTTET: Specifically, what needs to be repaired? Because it's not very comforting for people to say that, in general, it's safe. So what are the areas that are unsafe?

DP: The unsafe areas include small offices, parking area, which is mosque and church in the underground area. The workshop areas are closed.

AP: Why are they still closed? Why is that workshop area still closed? Is there something wrong or what needs to be repaired there?

DP: Checking on the stability of the area is still underway, so they're still doing further inspections because it's a large area, so it requires some time.

AP: What happened the other week was the mine started operations saying things were safe, and then on the Friday, I think the 31st, a truck driver died. Can you fill us in about what happened?

DP: That operator was doing maintenance work at the DOZ area. The accident was unrelated to the accident that took place on 14 May. It was a human error where a particular standard of operations procedure was not followed by him.

AP: One of the workers that works for the union, a man called Darmawan Puteranto told me there had been many complaints in the classroom where the tunnel collapse happened about falling rocks and saying that the room was not safe. What do you know about safety issues in that tunnel?

DP: This is the first time I've heard about such complaints. The training room has been there for, I think, more than 10 years and training has been done in that room for so many years. We've had a good track record in the past, and obviously...

AP: Well, in terms of the track record, there was an accident in 2011 where a couple of people died, so there are ongoing issues with the safety of the mine. Where there regular checks on the safety of that training tunnel?

DP: It is part of the standard operating procedures that we must report to the government, as well. They are checking these kind of routines that the company is performing and the reports to the government must be submitted. So, obviously, we are looking into it seriously. At this point in time four investigations are taking place at the same time, so we want to know the results of some of those investigations and take serious action.