JAKARTA, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Copper concentrate exports from Indonesia’s Grasberg mine, the world’s second-largest copper mine, are forecast to plunge this year because of a lag in output as operations move from open pit to underground mining, a government official said on Wednesday.
In 2019, copper concentrate exports are expected to drop to 200,000 tonnes from about 1.2 million tonnes last year, said Yunus Saefulhak, the director of minerals at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.
Grasberg’s operator, U.S. miner Freeport McMoRan Inc , has documented the output decline, which is the result of the switch from the depleting open pit mine early this year but before a massive expansion of a coexisting underground mine ramps up to full production.
The output drop will cut Grasberg’s revenue over the next few years just as Indonesia’s state-owned miner PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (PT Inalum) takes over ownership of the U.S. miner’s PT Freeport Indonesia unit.
“Concentrate production in 2019 will decline because of the change from open pit to underground (mining),” said Saefulhak. Grasberg will produce around 1.2 million tonnes of copper concentrate this year, compared to 2.1 million tonnes in 2018, while domestic consumption will grow to 1 million tonnes compared to 800,000 tonnes in 2018, the ministry said.