March 18, 2015 / 3:40 AM / in 3 years

Freeport Indonesia workers block Grasberg access road for 3rd day

JAKARTA, March 18 (Reuters) - Workers at Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s Indonesian unit have blocked an access road to one of the world’s biggest copper mines for a third day, a union official said on Wednesday.

Freeport runs the huge Grasberg complex on remote Papua and workers began blocking a road to the site on Monday to protest against a settlement reached with other employees at the end of a previous dispute, a senior mines ministry official has said.

The union official Albar Sabang, however, has told Reuters that the protest had not been arranged by unions so the exact reasons behind it were not known.

Any disruption to copper supplies from Grasberg could support benchmark metal prices that have dropped more than 8 percent so far this year.

While workers have been hindered from accessing Grasberg, no details were available on whether production had been hit.

Freeport Indonesia, which employs around 24,000 workers and is expected to produce 43 percent more copper concentrate this year at 2 million tonnes, said it was working with protestors to resolve the situation.

“We believe this matter can be resolved with limited impact to production,” Freeport spokesman Eric Kinneberg said.

Relations between Freeport and the workers’ unions have been strained in recent years. Late in 2014, a planned one-month strike following the death of four workers was cancelled at the 11th hour. (Reporting by Dennys Kapa in JAKARTA and Susan Taylor in TORONTO; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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