Freeport-McMoRan begins operations at new Indonesia copper smelter

Image from Freeport.

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) announced Tuesday that its Indonesian subsidiary, PT Freeport Indonesia (PT-FI), has completed construction of its new Manyar smelter in Gresik. Commissioning operations have also begun at the plant.

FCX said it expects the new smelter will begin producing copper cathodes in the coming months and continues to target full ramp up by the end of 2024, which is in line with previous expectations.

The miner also announced that on July 2, PT-FI received approval from the Indonesian government to export copper concentrates and anode slimes through December 2024, when full ramp-up of the new processing facilities is expected. PT-FI will continue to pay export duties on copper concentrates during the smelter ramp-up period pursuant to Indonesian regulations, it said.

The company’s prior concentrate and anode slime export licences expired on May 31, 2024, and PT-FI did not export any copper concentrates or anode slimes during the month of June.

“We are pleased to announce this important milestone for our new smelter in Indonesia,” chairman Richard Adkerson and CEO Kathleen Quirk said in a joint statement.

“Our team executed this large and complex project extremely well and is prepared to deliver the ramp-up to full production safely and efficiently. The completion of the project positions PT-FI as a fully integrated producer in Indonesia, providing a foundation to extend its long-term operating rights.”

As a result of the delay in obtaining PT-FI’s export licence, Freeport now expects a portion of its second-quarter production to be shipped in future periods. It expects consolidated sales for Q2 2024 to be approximately 5% below the April 2024 guidance of 975 million lb. of copper and 30% below its guidance of 500,000 oz. of gold.

Consolidated unit net cash costs for Q2 2024, which were previously estimated at $1.57 per lb. of copper, are currently estimated to approximate $1.77 per lb. for the quarter, principally reflecting lower byproduct credits as a result of the delay in shipments, Freeport said, adding consolidated average copper realization for the second quarter is expected to approximate $4.45 per lb.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based miner also said it is reviewing its sales guidance in connection with its routine quarterly forecast updates and does not currently expect a material change to its annual 2024 copper volume guidance.