Flash floods hit Freeport Indonesia’s mining operations

Grasberg is responsible for nearly 25% of Freeport’s output. (Image courtesy of NASA | Flickr)

Flash floods have left one worker missing and caused extensive damage to a power plant at U.S.-owned miner Freeport Indonesia’s operations in the eastern-most province of Papua, company officials said on Wednesday.

Mining operations were continuing as normal, but power and water outages were expected in the coming days, the Indonesian unit of U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoran Inc. said in a statement.

“One person remains unaccounted for after flash floods that occurred late Tuesday destroyed roads, bridges, water lines and most of the plant that supplies power to Tembagapura and Hidden Valley,” the company said, warning employees to keep travel to a minimum.

“Due to the extensive damage, (power and water) outages may occur until at least tomorrow,” it added.

Spokesman Riza Pratama said the main processing mill may also be affected if damage to infrastructure meant storage tanks filled up before repairs can be made.

Freeport, which operates what are among the world’s largest gold and copper mines, is also grappling with a labor dispute that has let to intermittent disruptions to output.

Around 5,000 workers have been on strike since May, protesting against mass layoffs that Freeport says were triggered by unexpected revisions earlier this year in government rules on taxes and royalties.

The government of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, in an effort to eke out more revenues from its natural resource sector, has also demanded that Freeport divest a 51-percent stake and relinquish arbitration rights. (Reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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