Freeport points to progress in Indonesia permit talks – by Susan Taylor (Reuters U.K. – January 25, 2018)

TORONTO (Reuters) – Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX.N) said it was edging closer to a permit deal with Indonesia for its massive Grasberg mine, but the world’s second-biggest copper producer cautioned that it has not yet struck any formal agreements.

There has been little sign of progress since last August, when Freeport promised to divest a 51-percent stake in Grasberg, the world’s second-biggest copper mine, to the Indonesian government, in exchange for long-term operating rights.

But negotiations have produced positive results, insisted Chief Executive Richard Adkerson on a conference call with analysts, adding that all parties aim to complete talks in the first half of 2018.

Both sides had agreed on standards to set a fair market value for Freeport’s divestment – a key sticking point to date – and the government had accepted Freeport’s demand for long-term financial and legal certainty, he said.

“We’re focused on getting this Indonesian thing resolved and recognize that until we do, that’s going to be a factor for credit ratings, stock valuation,” Adkerson said.

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