Posts Tagged ‘Grasberg’

Mining Week 51/’11: Grasberg back in business

December 18, 2011 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Freeport McMoran strikes deal on Grasberg
    • Freeport reached a two year extension of the collective labor agreement at its Indonesian Grasberg mine after a 3-month strike. The new agreement holds a 40% wage increase over 2 years, improved benefits, and the promise to base wage future negotiations on cost of living and competitor benchmarks.
    • Only days after the announcement of the agreement a helicopter transporting Freeport’s workers was shot at close to the mine, wounding one person.
    • Sources: Freeport McMoran press release; Wall Street Journal; Financial Times
  • Further coal consolidation in Australia
    • Less than a year after being put up for sale and then declining all offers made Whitehaven teamed up with Aston Resources to create the largest listed coal mining company in Australia with $5.1bln market value. The deal is structured as a shares only acquisition of Aston by Whitehaven.
    • Sources: Financial Times; Whitehaven merger documentation
  • Anglo reassured in South African court
    • The South African court ruled that the department of mines had no right to grant the mining rights of Sishen iron ore mine in the country to a junior mining company with strong ties to some influential politicians, but that instead the Kumba Iron Ore holds the rights to the mine. Kumba is majority owned by Anglo American.
    • Sources: Anglo American press release; Financial Times; Wall Street Journal

    Trends & Implications:

    • The coal mining industry in Australia is still relatively fragmented, with both the diversified supermajors and many domestic listed and unlisted companies active in the industry. Because the mining districts are much less concentrated than the iron ore or gold districts of the country it is harder to achieve economies of scale that would justify many mergers. The deals taken place are mainly based on transportation and sales negotiation synergies.
    • The Wall Street Journal published a good, readable, article this week describing the developments in the mining industry, signaling the combination of two key drivers this year: declining prices, and increasing costs. The resulting low margins will move the focus of many mining companies in the coming years to cost control. However, the winners of this cycle will be the companies that manage to invest during this period with lower profits to build capacity that will make them benefit from the structural increase in prices that will be caused by the structural price increases in the industry. Clearly not all cost increases are structural: equipment and contractor scarcity is mainly a temporary result of an overheated industry; but cost increases resulting from the move to harder forms of mining will stick.

    ©2011 | Wilfred Visser |

Mining Week 43/’11: Uncertainty in Indonesia

October 23, 2011 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Freeport McMoran faces strikes in Indonesia
    • About half of the workers at Freeports’ Grasberg mine went on strike to demand higher pay, forcing the company to shut down operations. Several strikers have been killed by police and unknown gunmen in the past week.
    • Sources: FCX press release; Financial Times; Wall Street Journal
  • Rio Tinto sells aluminium, buys uranium
  • BHP shops for iron ore in Brazil
    • Junior miner Ferrous Resources, worth just over $3bln, is looking for a buyer. BHP Billiton and a Chinese company are talking with management to negotiate a price.
    • Sources: Financial Times; Fox Business

Trends & Implications:

  • Freeport’s social troubles in Indonesia are the latest labor issue in a rise of labor unrest in the latest year after years of relatively peace in the industry. The unrest mainly affects copper producers, which have seen profits rise with high copper prices, but did not want to increase worker’s compensation too much to secure long term competitiveness.
  • The large diversified miners are increasingly focusing their attention on a limited number of extremely large operations, divesting smaller operations. With the spending power of the ‘mining supermajors’ a divide seems to open between the few operators of the world’s key supply areas and the many operators of a range of smaller operations.
  • Rio Tinto might face challenges selling the unwanted aluminium assets in one package. Very few companies are able to do acquisitions worth over $7bln, and many of the companies that have the spending power might face antitrust limitations.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser |

Strike Begins at Freeport Indonesia

September 16, 2011 Comments off

“Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s Indonesia unit suspended mining operations at its Grasberg mine in West Papua on Thursday, as workers started a strike that could last a month, a labor union spokesman said. ‘All of the mining operations, except for the public facilities, are shut down,’ Juli Parrorongan told Dow Jones Newswires in a text message. All workers at the mine are participating in the strike, which will last until Oct. 15 if the company refuses their demand for higher pay, Mr. Parrorongan said.

Freeport suspended operations during a weeklong strike at Grasberg in July and lost about 35 million pounds of copper and 60,000 ounces of gold output. ‘We are disappointed that union workers decided to implement an illegal work stoppage,’ PT Freeport Indonesia, which is 90.64% owned by Freeport-McMoRan, said in a statement. The company said that since July 20, it ‘has negotiated in a diligent good-faith manner’ with the union toward a collective labor agreement to cover 2011-13.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, September 15 2011


  • Grasberg forecasted 2011 total mine sales of 1 billion pounds of copper and 1.3 million troy ounces of gold, representing approximately 3.1% of global copper production and 1.5% of global gold production.
  • Current negotiations started after an 8-day strike in July. Freeport offers a 22% wage increase over 2 years, but unions demand an increase of salaries by more than 100%.


  • Copper price has been relatively stable for the year to date, but the news of the strike at Grasberg coincides with reports of falling production in Chile and increased buying by Chinese traders, potentially leading to a new price rally.
  • Several analysts still expect a modest global copper supply increase for the year. However, if strikes spread to other mines supply for the year might actually decrease for the first time in about a decade. Global production has almost doubled in the past 20 years, only experiencing a short stabilization in 2002-2003.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser |

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