(Bloomberg) — Freeport-McMoRan Inc. expects to have permits in place “imminently” to resume exports of semi-processed copper from Indonesia for the next six months, allowing the miner to focus on fleshing out a long-term agreement to stay in the country.
“We have been working with the government on this approach, but it has not yet been formally documented,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson said in an interview in Santiago on Wednesday. “We understand that’s to happen immediately and that there are no areas of controversy in the documentation.”
Indonesian authorities said on Tuesday they issued a mining license, that will allow Phoenix-based Freeport to resume exports of copper concentrates once the trade ministry signs off, which Adkerson said is a administrative matter that doesn’t involve additional negotiation.
The resumption of shipments at the world’s second-biggest mine will further ease supply constraints in copper after strikes at a Freeport mine in Peru and BHP Billiton Ltd.’s Escondida in Chile. It would also bring a welcome boost to the local economy via state revenue and jobs.
“This step is a positive step for the process,” Adkerson said in the interview. “It’s in nobody’s interest to keep us from exporting.” Through its Indonesian arm, Freeport has majority ownership of the Grasberg copper-and-gold mine, which generated about 18 percent of its revenue last year. The world’s largest publicly traded copper producer has been embroiled in complex negotiations with Indonesia for years as it attempted to extend its so-called Contract of Work, or CoW, in the country that’s set to expire in 2021.
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