Strike at Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg Mine May Support Global Copper Prices
Due to a strike at Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg mine in Papua, the company’s copper production has fallen by about a third thus leading to speculation that global copper prices may increase after having fallen almost ten percent in 2014. About one thousand workers of Freeport Indonesia have been on strike since the second week of October after a fatal accident at the end of last month. The workers request the sacking of around 50 managers at the subsidiary of US-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold.
After this fatal accident, which led to four deaths among Freeport workers, hundreds of workers blocked access to the open-pit area of the Grasberg complex for two days. The Grasberg mine is the world's largest gold mine and third-largest copper mine. Around 24,000 workers are employed by Freeport Indonesia at this mine site. After the September accident, mining activities at the Grasberg mine ceased for two days as authorities investigated the accident and forced the miner to enhance safety policies. The September accident, which involved a truck collision, was not the first fatal incident at the Grasberg mine. In May 2013, 28 Freeport Indonesia workers died after a tunnel had collapsed.
Furthermore, the Workers' Union (SPKEP SPSI) announced that a larger strike, involving around 3,600 Freeport Indonesia workers, will be held between 6 November and 6 December 2014 as both parties have not yet reached an agreement. The workers want the management to take responsibility for the fatal accidents.
The benchmark copper prices in London were near a two-week high on Tuesday (28/10) on expectation that strikes at the Grasberg mine as well as one planned in Peru may curb the global copper supply. Meanwhile, an expected seasonal pick-up in demand from China provides additional support for copper prices
• Recent fatal accidents cause concern about safety policies at Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg mining site
• Freeport Indonesia workers will go on strike up to 6 December leading to limited copper production and thus global copper prices may get a boost
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