Opening up about the Freeport Smelter that Papua is Protesting – PT Freeport Indonesia has begun establishment of a copper processing and refining (smelter) facility in Gresik, East Java. The groundbreaking was done on October 12, witnessed by President Joko Widodo.

However, this project has sparked protests from the Papuan people. A Minister of Investment/ a Head of BKPM Bahlil Lahadalia said that he had received many protests from the Papuan community concerning the Freeport smelter project being built in Gresik. Whereas, Freeport’s mine is located in Papua.

“I conscientiously follow the dynamics in Papua and West Papua, especially regarding the aspirations of comrades in Kadin, associations, ranging from youth organizations, customs, until intellectual groups and so on. I conveyed why the smelter was built in Gresik,” Bahlil said at a press conference, Wednesday (27/10/2021).

“I was protested, so many letters came in stating that as if brother is not from Papua alone,” he continued.

Bahlil explained that the reason for the establishment of the smelter in Gresik was because it had been decided from 2017-2018. The consideration is that the infrastructure in Papua does not meet the requirements, including the matter of electricity, so that it is not built in Papua.

But hearing the protests, there are several things the government will do. Bahlil admitted that he had communicated with the President to increase Freeport’s copper production capacity and build a new smelter in Papua.

Later, Freeport’s copper production capacity from the Grasberg mine in Papua will be increased to 3.8-4 million tons per year compared only 3 million tons per year currently. With the increase in production capacity, there is a quota of copper that can be processed in the new smelter in Papua.

“We are increasing the copper production capacity to 3.8 million (tonnes) more, later it is planned to build a smelter in Papua, this is what we have programmed. So, God willing, hopefully that as soon as possible the production capacity can increase to 3.8 million-4 million tons. The rest will be built for smelters in Papua,” he explained.

Bahlil said he continually fight for the building of a smelter in Papua. However, he advised that this policy is also well supported, and not hampered.

“Don’t block this, block that.  Yet, we will settle it amicably,” he said.

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