January 20, 2015 / 7:35 AM / 5 years ago

Indonesia warns Freeport may lose export permit if smelter delayed

JAKARTA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Freeport-McMoRan Inc could lose its permit to export copper concentrate from its massive Indonesian mine in West Papua, the country’s mining minister said on Tuesday, unless it can show progress in developing a new copper smelter this week.

“Freeport hasn’t confirmed the location,” Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said told Reuters via text message, referring to the site for the proposed $2.3-billion copper smelter, a prerequisite for the firm to be eligible to export. “This is not what we agreed on.”

Under an agreement the Arizona-based miner signed in July, Freeport has until Jan. 25 to complete the land acquisition for the 300,000-tonne-capacity smelter, the minister said.

Freeport did not respond to emailed questions on the matter.

As part of July’s MOU, the country’s largest copper producer agreed to pay a $115 million “assurance bond” to develop the smelter by 2017. The government is now asking Freeport to build a second one by 2020 at a cost of around $1.5 billion.

Freeport’s copper mine in Papua is the fifth-largest in the world. (Reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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