14 Jun 2013

Freeport mine workers in Papua threaten to walk off job

8:36 am on 14 June 2013

Trade union workers at the Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc mine in Indonesia's Papua will stop work indefinitely from today if the company does not suspend those suspected of being at fault for a deadly tunnel collapse.

Freeport halted operations at the world's second biggest copper mine in Papua last month, a day after a training area in a tunnel caved in, killing 28 people.

A separate accident at the Freeport McMoran-run mine two weeks ago killed a truck driver.

The firm declared force majeure on Wednesday to free itself from obligations to deliver copper concentrate from its Grasberg mine in Indonesia's eastern most province.

Workers at the mine have been carrying out maintenance since the collapse.

In a letter sent to Freeport management on Monday, the union cited five company officials suspected of being responsible for the tunnel collapse accident.

Papua-based union official Virgo Solossa says those suspected have to be sent home while the investigation on the cause of the accident is still under way.

Meanwhile, Freeport Indonesia spokeswoman Daisy Primayanti said the company was in talks with the union.

Freeport employs about 24,000 workers, of which three-quarters belong to the union.