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.
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Production is still not back on track at Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg mine in Papua as around 1,000 workers have not showed up for work since the second week of October. These workers refuse to work after a series of (fatal) incidents that led to concern about safety policies. In May 2013, 28 Freeport Indonesia workers died after a tunnel collapsed. More recently, in late September 2014, four workers died after a giant haulage truck collided with another vehicle (carrying nine passengers) at the Grasberg mine.
Global copper prices can come under pressure as Newmont Nusa Tenggara (NNT) has started to export copper concentrate again this week after a nine-month hiatus caused by the dispute between the Indonesian government and NNT about Law No. 4 of 2009 on Mineral and Coal Mining (the “New Mining Law” of Indonesia), which sets high export taxes on unprocessed mineral exports (and stipulates a complete ban by 2017), in an effort to force Indonesian miners to build local processing facilities.
In the last 12 months, the international copper price showed a neutral movement (moving more or less sideways). This is particularly due to a number of issues in China, the world’s second largest economy, which impact negatively on the copper price movement. China has become such an important market for a variety of commodities, including copper (used in construction and electronics), that other countries can be considered almost irrelevant. Why do analysts have low expectations of the copper market for the remainder of 2014?
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