Striking workers of the US mining company Freeport McMoran in Timika (AFP, Tjahjono Eranius)
US miner Freeport-McMoRan on Wednesday declared force majeure on shipments from its strike-hit Indonesian gold and copper mine so it can avoid liability on existing customer orders. Around 8,000 of Freeport Indonesia’s 23,000 workers have been on strike for more than a month in restive Papua province, demanding drastic wage increases and better working conditions.
Freeport said the labour action and resulting drop in production at its Grasberg mine has taken a toll on its ability to make good on some promised shipments to customers. The declaration means Freeport can avoid the usual liabilities for failing to meet its contractual obligations.
“The (lower) production has impacted our ability to fully perform our sales commitments, and as a result we were required to declare force majeure on the affected… sales agreements,” Freeport Indonesia spokesman Ramdani Sirait told AFP.
You can send a message calling on Nestle to end its union busting practices in Panjang, Indonesia and Kabirwala, Pakistan. In Panjang, Nestle has fired 53 workers who participated in a strike, which is part of a long campaign by workers to secure the right to bargain over wages. You can read a longer history of the Nestle Panjang campaign here.
Below are comments from various market analysts discussing the Freeport mine strike in Papua, as quoted in this Reuters article:
- “Any shutdown will have a serious impact on the prices and market psychology…Major mines do not shut down indefinitely but given the size of this operation, the market cannot take any more bumps.”
- “I doubt they will close the mine on account of a strike. Both the company and the workers need to get back to work and it’s a question of who is going to blink first.”
- “They are going to have to make peace because there is enough mischief that the union can get into that can cause Freeport a lot of difficulty.”
- “All eyes will be on the company’s Grasberg update and revisions to prior full-year Indonesian segment guidance.”
- “Assuming Grasberg operated at one-third capacity during the 15 days in the third quarter affected by the strike, we estimate third-quarter consolidated production should be lower by 30 million pounds of copper and 50,000 ounces of gold.”
- “Freeport is going to have to write down provisionally priced copper from the second quarter and that will have a significant impact on third-quarter results.”
"Striking workers man a road block inside the Freeport McMoran complex in Timika on Oct. 14, 2011, days after a deadly clash with police" (AFP)
The dispute continues at Freeport. Most recent news comes in the form of allegations of sabotage, after the mine had to shutdown operations due to problems in the pipeline system that carries materials from its processing centers to the port. At the same time, workers are continuing to block roads, the port, and the local airport, disrupting supplies to the mine operations and using company machinery to reenforce their blockades.
Below is a slide show with graphics from Occupy Jakarta, mostly taken from their facebook page. I will be adding to the slide show as posters & other graphics are published. If you know of more, please send them along.
[Update, Oct 20]: A number of the posters above have been created by Nobodycorp. Internationale Unlimited. You can see their facebook page here.
An organization calling itself Lasksar Tambang (the Mining Militia) held a demonstration in Yogyakarta calling for the nationalization of the Freeport mine in Papua. Originally reported in Kedaulatan Rakyat, the IndoLeft News Service has provided an English translation:
Scores of demonstrators from the People’s Mining Militia held a free-speech forum in front of the Gedung Agung Presidential Palace in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on Thursday October 13. They were demanding the return of the nation’s sovereignty through the nationalisation of the foreign mining industry, in particular PT Freeport Indonesia, under the control of the people.
The speaker at the action, Kuswanto, revealed that PT Freeport, which mines the largest copper deposit in the world, also mines the largest deposit of gold, silver and other materials in the world, and this has never been declared openly. Freeport not only oppresses the people of West Papua, but has also damages the environment, which is the source of the people’s livelihood.
“PT Freeport disposes of its waste in the Ajkwa river, which flows into the Arafura coastal sea and contaminates the waters and threatens living creatures. Not only that, Freeport has also committed an inhuman act resulting in the death of a worker because they were demanding a wage rise”, he said.
The People’s Mining Militia strongly condemns the brutal actions by security forces, both the police and the military, which resulted in the death of a Freeport worker and injured six others. They also called for the immediate arrest, trial and jailing of the perpetrators and an end to militaristic acts at PT Freeport and in other parts in West Papua.
“We also fully support the strike by PT Freeport workers to demand their rights and a [decent] standard of living. Return the nation’s sovereignty through the nationalisation of foreign mining industries under the control of the people. We also call on all Indonesian people to unite, take over and manage for themselves all strategic assets for the sake of the people’s welfare”, he asserted.