The construction of US mining giant Freeport McMoRan’s Indonesian copper smelter, one of the biggest in the world, will be completed by the end of this year, an official at its Indonesian unit said on Thursday.
The $3 billion facility in Gresik, East Java, will have capacity of 1.7 million tonnes of copper concentrate and is expected to start operations gradually in 2024.
Agung Laksamana, Freeport Indonesia’s executive vice president of external affairs, said that “substantial” construction of the smelter would reach 100% completion by the end of 2023.
He said the current completion rate was 51.7%.
Freeport’s statement comes as President Joko Widodo reiterated this week that the country would stick to its plan to ban exports of copper ore to spur domestic processing of the material in June.
Asked about whether Freeport would be allowed to export beyond June if its smelters were not ready, the president told Reuters on Wednesday that while he has not decided on any leniency, he would try to find a solution without reversing the ban. Widodo blamed Freeport’s smelter delay on the pandemic.
Freeport Indonesia said last week its copper output in 2023 is seen at about 1.6 billion pounds (725,748 tonnes).
(By Bernadette Christina, Gayatri Suroyo, Kate Lamb, Ananda Teresia and Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies)