(Adds statement from worker union official)
By Wilda Asmarini
JAKARTA Oct 3 Mining operations at
Freeport-McMoRan Inc.'s giant Grasberg open pit site in
the Indonesian province of Papua have stopped as a result of a
labour dispute, company and union officials said on Monday.
Any disruption to supplies from one of the world's biggest
copper and gold mines could support benchmark metal prices.
The dispute involving around 1,000 workers began on Sept.
28, but has not yet affected output of copper and gold
concentrate, Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said.
"The company is working to address the issues and to restore
open pit mining operations as soon as possible," Pratama said.
"Underground mining operations have not been impacted and
milling operations continue at a reduced rate."
Abraham Tandi, deputy secretary of the Freeport workers
union, said mining operations at Grasberg had been stopped for
the past three days, as workers demanded better conditions
including bonus payments.
"We've been complaining for about eight months," Tandi told
Reuters by telephone, adding that management had been "slow" to
respond to the complaints but were now discussing the issues
directly with the union.
"Hopefully they'll find a solution today," Tandi said.
Freeport Indonesia, which employs around 24,000 workers,
aims to produce 180,000-200,000 tonnes of copper ore per day
Relations between Freeport and worker unions have been
strained in recent years. Production was brought to a halt in
2015 after workers blocked access to Grasberg for five days.
(Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Tom Hogue)