Three people die in Freeport Indonesia helicopter crash

JAKARTA, March 18 Sun Mar 18, 2012 12:18am EDT

JAKARTA, March 18 (Reuters) - Three people have died after a helicopter belonging to Freeport-McMoRan & Gold Inc's Indonesian unit crashed in the remote mountainous area of Mimika in the Papua region.

Two Indonesian contract workers and a pilot from New Zealand lost contact with air control on Saturday, a company spokesman said. A search and rescue team found the wreckage on Sunday.

An investigation is currently underway, but bad weather is believed to have caused the crash, the spokesman added.

Freeport's Grasberg mine in west Papua holds the largest gold reserves and is the second-largest copper mine in the world.

Operations at the mine have been hampered in recent months by a series of labour disputes, including a three-month strike late last year.