The Indonesian government granted permission to Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold to resume underground mining operations at the Grasberg Mine, two months after a tunnel collapse in a training area killed 28 workers.
Reuters reported that the government, which gave the go-ahead for a resumption of openpit mining last month, said the decision followed the completion of an independent investigation into the accident at the Grasberg Mine in remote West Papua.
“From everything that has been done, that has been taken into consideration, including pressure from the community and local government, (we) have decided ok, it’s safe,” Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Susilo Siswoutomo said in a prepared statement.
Freeport Indonesia President Director Rozik Soetjipto told a media conference it would take one month for underground mining operations at the mine to hit full capacity.
Openpit mining has been running at full capacity since July 4.
The open-pit mine normally produces between 140 kt -150 kt/d (154,000 – 165,000 stpd) of copper ore, while output from the underground operations is 80 kt/d (88,000 stpd).
Freeport was forced to declare force majeure on copper shipments after the accident.
This had yet to be lifted, Soetjipto said.
Before the accident, Freeport had expected sales of about 500 mt (550,000 st) of copper from its Indonesia unit in 2013, along with 38.8 t (1.25 million oz) of gold.
Freeport is also in talks with the government to renegotiate a new mining contract to replace its current 30-year contract, which expires in 2021.
A member of the government team negotiating with Freeport said last week the accident should not delay those talks.