Reuters: ‘Hope Fades’ At Grasberg Mine

An update on the situation at Freeport’s Grasberg mine in Papua, from Reuters:

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc said on Saturday that rockfalls were hampering rescue efforts after a tunnel collapse four days ago at its giant Indonesian copper mine, with hopes fading of finding alive any of the 23 still missing.

Freeport closed the world’s second largest copper mine on Wednesday, a day after a tunnel fell in on 38 workers undergoing training. Five are known to have died. Several of the 10 rescued are still in hospital.

The Grasberg mine in West Papua is in one of the most remote regions of the Indonesian archipelago.

“We continue to carry out these (rescue) efforts non-stop, 24 hours a day as quickly as can be done safely to do everything possible to save lives, but as more time passes the possibility of there being any survivors becomes less likely,” Freeport Indonesia’s Mine General Manager, Nurhadi Sabirin, who heads the emergency response team, said in a statement.

And what has been labor’s response?  The same Reuters article had this quote from union leader Virgo Solossa: “All operational activities, including production activities, have to be stopped during the investigation process…We think that the accident has been caused by the company’s carelessness. This has to be investigated.”  Additionally, AP reports that workers continue to block a main road in an attempt to stop production at the mine:

Around 1,000 workers are still blocking a main road about two miles (three kilometers) from the accident site in solidarity with the victims, and also to seek a guarantee of safety in working underground.

Ronald Waromi, an action organizer, said they also wanted to make sure that mining activities would continue to be halted so the company would focus on rescue efforts.

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