* Injunction to reopen mine could take months to obtain
* Newmont prefers to resolve Indonesia dispute through talks
* CEO says open to reviving merger talks with Barrick
(Adds CEO comments on Indonesia, Barrick, Australia operations)
By Sonali Paul
MELBOURNE, Aug 7 Newmont Mining Corp
said on Thursday it is applying for an injunction to get workers
back to its Batu Hijau mine as it fights a controversial tax on
copper exports that led the company to halt shipments from
Indonesia this year.
The top U.S. gold miner stopped exporting copper concentrate
from the mine on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa in January
after the government introduced an escalating tax on metal
concentrates in a push to force miners to build smelters in the
Southeast Asian country.
Newmont has taken a hard line against the tax by filing for
international arbitration against the state, arguing that the
export tax violates the company's investment agreement with the
Newmont CEO Gary Goldberg told an industry function in
Melbourne that the company would seek interim injunctive relief
from the arbitration panel to reopen the mine and resume
exports, ahead of the outcome of the arbitration.
"We estimate it could take several months to obtain a ruling
on interim relief and at least several weeks to ramp back up to
full production if that relief is granted," Goldberg said in a
Newmont halted copper mining at Batu Hijau on June 5, saying
its concentrate storage facilities were full.
Despite the dispute, Newmont still considered Indonesia a
"great place" to be working in the long term, Goldberg said.
He stressed Newmont would continue to try to resolve the
dispute through talks with the government while also pursuing
the arbitration, but said he had no plans to visit Indonesia
while he was in the Asia-Pacific region over the next week.
"Arbitration isn't necessarily the way I'd like to resolve
this. I'd rather resolve it through negotiation with either the
current government or the incoming government, if it goes that
long," Goldberg told reporters after his speech.
Fellow miner Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc,
last month sealed a deal by agreeing to a much reduced export
duty of 7.5 percent, and is set to resume copper concentrate
While Newmont has said it was continuing talks with the
government, an Indonesian official has previously denied any
talks have taken place.
"I get their public position is important and I appreciate
that, but we continue to look for ways that we can achieve a
successful outcome for both of us there," Goldberg said.
He said he had no plans yet to talk to Indonesia's
president-elect Joko Widodo as he was just putting together his
"But if they think that would be helpful, I'm always
available," Goldberg said.
Newmont was open to reviving talks on a possible merger with
Barrick Gold Corp, the world's largest gold miner,
Goldberg said, but said there have been no discussions since
talks fell apart in April.
"Clearly we overlap and we work together. KCGM (in
Australia) is an example. We've got a joint venture in Nevada.
And I wouldn't close the door on it at all," Goldberg told
Newmont had no plans to sell its remaining operations in
Australia, after selling its Jundee mine earlier this year for
$91 million, as its other mines, including Tanami in the
Northern Territory, are performing well, he said.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)