* Investigations must be wrapped up before workers return
* Rescuers retrieve all 28 missing bodies by Wednesday
* Union official says he does not know how long probe will
* Freeport says still has stocks for "number of days"
By Yayat Supriatna and Michael Taylor
JAKARTA, May 23 All investigations into a tunnel
collapse that killed 28 people at the world's No.2 copper mine,
run by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc in Indonesia,
must be completed before workers return, a trade union official
said on Thursday.
Arizona-based Freeport suspended operations at the remote
Papua mine on May 15, a day after a training tunnel away from
its main operations fell in on 38 workers. The closure is
estimated to cost $15 million a day in lost production.
The impact of the Grasberg closure on global copper supply
has so far been limited as the mine complex keeps stockpiles in
reserve in case of disruptions, although that would change if
the closure drags on.
"Shipments are being made that can last for a number of days
but there is a finite amount there. It will depend on when we
start. We believe we will be prepared to start relatively
quickly," Chief Executive Richard Adkerson told reporters.
"We've taken the first steps today of getting workers back
and having training briefings ... The priority is going to be on
safety and not production, but there is no barrier to physically
starting production very quickly."
Investors fear the accident, one of the country's worst
mining disasters, could further strain relations between
Freeport and trade unions after a three-month strike in late
2011 and smaller disputes since.
"We will get back to work after all investigations conducted
by the government, Freeport and the labour union are completed,"
Papua-based union leader Virgo Solossa told Reuters.
"We still don't know how long the investigation will take,
perhaps a few more days to go, I don't know."
Ten workers were saved at the Grasberg mine complex, which
also holds the world's largest gold reserves, and company
officials said rescuers had retrieved the bodies of all 28
missing workers by Wednesday.
Indonesia's energy and mineral resources ministry is holding
an investigation into the accident and has ordered safety
checks on all underground mining facilities in the country.
Freeport has said that once rescue efforts are complete it
will launch an investigation with the aid of international
experts and Indonesian government officials.
With no official estimate of how long the investigations
might run, analysts worry the mine could face a prolonged
closure. Freeport has said it would only reopen with government
Adkerson declined to predict how long the investigation
One reason for the collapse could be that the tunnel was old
and had not been properly maintained, or there could be a
problem with the stability of the rock that needs further
investigation, said Matt Fusarelli, an analyst at mining and
metals consultancy AME Group in Sydney.
"It indicates that there could be more risks associated with
the geology and they're going to have to test," Fusarelli added.
"This is not a local Indonesian company, this is a big
publicly-listed, Western mining company which brings first world
safety standards to these mining operations."
The Grasberg mine normally produces around 220,000 tonnes of
concentrated ore a day. Around 140,000 tonnes comes from open
pit mining and 80,000 tonnes from underground operations.
Freeport Indonesia's sales are expected to reach 1.1 billion
pounds of copper and 1.2 million ounces of gold in 2013, up 54
percent and 31 percent over 2012, respectively.
The rise in sales is due to higher ore grades and a targeted
ramp-up in output from underground operations, with open-pit
operations likely to be phased out by 2017.
"It does call into question the viability of some of the
expansion," Fusarelli added, referring to the tunnel collapse.