* Union demands suspension of five employees after May 14
* Freeport urges union leaders to reconsider strike threat
* Two Japanese copper smelters keep production forecasts
By Yayat Supriatna and Michael Taylor
JAKARTA, June 13 Trade union workers at the
Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc mine in Indonesia
will stop work indefinitely from Friday if the company does not
suspend those suspected of being at fault for a deadly tunnel
collapse last month, a union official said.
Freeport halted operations at the world's No.2 copper mine
in remote West Papua on May 15, a day after a training area in a
tunnel caved in, killing 28 people.
The firm declared force majeure on Wednesday to free itself
from obligations to deliver copper concentrate from its Grasberg
mine in Indonesia's eastern most province. Workers at the mine
have been carrying out maintenance since the collapse.
In a letter sent to Freeport management on Monday, the union
cited five company officials suspected of being responsible for
the accident, Papua-based union official Virgo Solossa said by
telephone on Thursday.
"They have to be sent home while the investigation on the
cause of the accident is still under way," said Solossa.
"We have set a deadline of June 14 for the management ... we
will then ask all workers to stop work and withdraw from the
Freeport Indonesia spokeswoman Daisy Primayanti said the
company was in talks with the union.
"We are urging the union leaders to reconsider their
instruction to their members and to work cooperatively with the
company so that everyone can return to a productive and safe
working environment," Primayanti said in an email.
Freeport employs about 24,000 workers, of which
three-quarters belong to the union.
Any walkout could delay the eventual resumption of
production at the mine and further strain ties between the two
sides after a three-month strike in late 2011. Planned pay talks
were also put on hold last month.
ASIAN SMELTERS ASSESS IMPACT
Before Freeport declared force majeure, Indonesia's only
copper smelter, PT Smelting, which usually gets most of its
copper concentrate from Freeport, said it was in talks with
other suppliers to avoid an enforced closure.
Japanese smelter Pan Pacific Copper, which also
buys copper concentrate from Freeport Indonesia, said on
Thursday it had asked other contracted suppliers to bring
"We may consider buying copper on the spot market if
needed," said a Pan Pacific spokesman, who wouldn't say where
the other suppliers are based. He added that the company had not
altered its production forecast of 261,400 tonnes for the
Sumitomo Metal Mining, Japan's No.2 copper
producer, said it was too early to determine the impact of the
force majeure on its purchases of concentrate, and that the firm
had no plans to change its annual production targets.
Arizona-based Freeport briefly resumed open-pit mining on
May 28, but after a worker died in a separate accident the
Indonesian government asked the company to suspend operations
until a government investigation was completed.
The head of the Energy and Minerals Resources Ministry
investigation into the accident said on Thursday a final report
would be handed to the government by early next week at the
Government officials say production cannot resume until the
investigation is completed, and will analyze the findings with