自由港CEO Richard Adkerson表示：“在目前的争端中，我们要么双赢，要么双输。“不幸的是，我们现在正走在双输的道路上”。
“此类事件越来越多，且印尼政府与自由港的争端带来的政治风险越大，进入印尼矿业的新的投资就越少。”一个监测全球能源部门的非营利组织--国家资源管理研究所高级分析师David Manley表示。（上海有色网 许辉翻译）
Freeport threatens action over copper mine dispute
Indonesia is trying to impose rules that would eventually force Freeport McMoRan to cede control of its Grasberg mine.
Freeport-McMoRan’s standoff with Indonesia over the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine is entering a new phase, as the company scales back operations while trying to force a resolution to the dispute.
Last month, the US miner threatened to take Indonesia to arbitration, saying new rules the country imposed on miners in January violated the terms of an operating agreement struck in 1991 that runs to 2021.
The rules are part of a broad effort to gather more revenue from the mining sector. Under the rules, Freeport is banned from exporting a form of unrefined copper until it agrees to new operating rights that would eventually force it to cede control of Grasberg, the second-largest copper mine in the world, to Indonesian entities.
With the two sides at loggerheads, the miner lowered its output target for Grasberg, shelved investment plans and began laying off workers.
The showdown has reached a critical juncture. A prolonged standoff would be a financial blow to Freeport, which derives about one-third of its copper output from Indonesia. The mine is readjusting its operations to 40 per cent of its normal capacity.
Indonesia stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in annual payments, and its demands for greater control could further imperil already dwindling investment in its resources sector, experts warned. The dispute also could undercut Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s campaign to attract foreign investment for infrastructure in a nation stretched across 18,000 islands. The wrangling over Grasberg has already contributed to a rise in global copper prices, which could experience even more upward pressure if the conflict drags on.
“In this current controversy … we’re either going to all win, or we’re all going to lose,” said Freeport chief executive Richard Adkerson. “And unfortunately we’re on a path right now of where we’re all potentially going to lose.”
As part of its push to earn more from the mining sector, Indonesia banned ore exports and placed restrictions on exports of mineral concentrates in 2014 to push companies to invest in domestic smelting.
Now, Indonesian officials say the operating agreement for Grasberg needs to be updated to reflect changes in the country’s legal landscape. Indonesia has asserted more control over foreign investment with the aim of redistributing economic benefits in a more equitable manner, an effort that began after the fall of dictator Suharto.
Freeport has set a deadline of mid-June to start arbitration proceedings and seek damages if it can’t come to a deal with Jakarta. Indonesian is standing firm.
“Nobody wants to play hardball,’’ said Luhut Pandjaitan, Co-ordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, which oversees the ministry of energy and mineral resources. “But of course we also feel that after 50 years we also have to consider the people of Indonesia.” Freeport has operated in Indonesia since the 1960s.
In a statement on March 7, the ministry said it supported foreign and domestic investment and respected existing agreements. It said the divestment obligation was meant to “facilitate” mining companies to join with the government and “bring justice” for the people of Indonesia as the “absolute” owners of the country’s resource wealth.
Sitting atop a mountain in western New Guinea island, Grasberg has been a windfall for Indonesia and Freeport. The company’s success at Grasberg allowed Freeport to grow to become the world’s largest publicly listed copper miner — and Indonesia’s largest taxpayer.
Indonesia is requiring that Freeport agree to divest enough shares so that the company has only a minority stake in its Indonesian unit as part of new rules that will allow Freeport to resume the export of copper concentrates. Freeport currently has a 90.64 per cent stake and has agreed to divest up to 30 per cent. The new rules would also require Freeport to build a new smelter by 2022 and pay higher taxes.
Indonesian officials have signalled some willingness to be flexible about the terms and timing of the divestment. It can be done in stages over several years, Mr Pandjaitan said.
Freeport said the rules violated its operating contract and it would not give up its rights to a mine in which it has invested $US12 billion.
Freeport is holding on while other miners have left Indonesia. Last year, Newmont Mining and BHP Billiton sold off interests in their Indonesian units to local firms and exited the country, citing heavier regulation as a factor.
Mining revenue as a share of economic growth in Indonesia has dropped since exports were restricted. Companies now are more wary of investing in countries where the risks are perceived to be high amid economic uncertainty. That has raised concerns about the prospects for Indonesia’s mining industry.
“The more these sort of stories come about and the more political risk is created from arguments with Freeport, the less new investment will come in,” said David Manley, a senior analyst at the National Resource Governance Institute, a not-for-profit that monitors global energy sectors.