(Adds background, no comment from government)
By Fergus Jensen
JAKARTA, April 18 Freeport McMoRan Inc
has received preliminary approval to resume copper concentrate
exports from its Indonesian operation and hopes to lodge an
application for an export permit this week, a company spokesman
Indonesia halted Freeport's copper concentrate exports in
January under new rules requiring the Arizona-based company to
adopt a special licence, pay new taxes and royalties, divest a
51 percent stake in its operations and relinquish arbitration
However, hopes of a resumption of exports from Freeport's
Grasberg mine have improved since the end of March, when the
mining minister said a temporary licence would be granted while
discussions on longer-term issues continued.
"We have approval for exports and are working on finalising
an export permit," Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama
told Reuters on Tuesday.
Mining ministry officials could not be reached for comment
on the matter.
An earlier recommendation for Freeport to export up to 1.1
million tonnes of concentrate would still apply, but the company
still needs an export permit from the Trade Ministry, Director
General of Coal and Minerals Bambang Gatot said at that time.
The latest deal is expected to allow Freeport to export
copper concentrate for six months, while working to reach
agreement with the government on the other disputed
The stoppage has resulted in thousands of layoffs and cost
both sides hundreds of millions of dollars. In February Freeport
served notice, saying it has the right to commence arbitration
in 120 days if no agreement is reached.
Freeport's joint venture partner at Grasberg, Rio Tinto
, has also warned several times it is considering whether
to continue the partnership at the world's second-largest copper
mine, given the uncertainties surrounding Freeport's
negotiations over long-term mining rights in Indonesia.
(Additional reporting by Wilda Asmarini and Bernadette
Christina Munthe; Editing by David Evans and David Goodman)